Sponsored by the Wellness Center, the bed that appeared Monday afternoon in Buntrock Commons signifies not when or how long you sleep, but with whom. Based on a program called "The Big Bed," previously conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, the Wellness Centers Sexual Health Month program represents the dangers of sleeping with, and the likelihood of contracting an sexually transmitted disease (STD) from, a person with an unknown sexual history.
"Theres such a social stigma about asking where people have been before you," said Kristin Washburn 07, monthly program coordinator and peer education programmer at the Wellness Center. "People dont date here because theyre so busy, but they still have sexual desires. On a campus that doesnt date, there are a lot of little hookups."
Students were invited to leave their signatures between Monday and Friday on the anomalous twin-size residence hall bed located near the Cage in Buntrock Commons. No explanation was offered as to the beds purpose, the assumption being that "students would just sign the bed, without taking into consideration how many signatures had already been placed on the bed," Washburn said.
Students have speculated about the reasons behind the bed.
"I thought since it was so cold out, maybe it was so that people wouldnt have to go all the way back to their rooms, Paul Johnson 09 said. You know, a bed away from home."
Instead, as explained in the Big Bed program guide, students willingness to sign the bed without regard to its many other signatures is "analogous to sexual relationships and the belief that many people do not ask about previous sexual partners prior to having sexual contact with someone."
To Washburn, the program serves as a particular reminder of the impaired judgment brought about by drinking before having sex.
"When youre drunk, you dont ask questions," she said.
Many sexually active adults underestimate the prevalence of STDs in themselves and their partners. The same pamphlet explains that of the 12 million STD infections contracted yearly in the United States, two thirds occur in people under age 25.
Further Sexual Health Month programs include "Students for Reproductive Health," a presentation on March 22 from 4 6 p.m. in Buntrock Crossroads.