Sex on campus has changed over the years

These days, I hear that the hot spots besides the dorms for having sex on campus are the far corners of the basement in the north wing of Henry Madden Library and certain one-stall restrooms around campus.

Things haven’t changed that much from my student days in the 1980s. There were some other venues then that don’t exist anymore. The old racquetball courts that used to be on the west side of North Gym and the sauna that was in the now-gutted men’s locker room immediately come to mind.

When I worked for Recreation-Intramurals I’d occasionally find couples doing it at the racquetball courts. They’d find the corner that couldn’t be seen from the small window in the court door.

When I interrupted folks, I’d ask them to leave. They were usually sheepish and would quickly exit to hunt up another spot. Restrooms were another popular spot. Other favorite spots people used were the men’s room on the ground floor of Grosse Industrial Technology and the men’s room on the third floor of Family and Food Sciences.

Back in the early 1990s, I got into a wrestling match with a guy at the old North Gym pool. I was hanging out with the recreation lifeguard, waiting for a swim for fitness class to end at 7 p.m. one night, when two guys came running in the entrance from Campus Drive. The one in front had books and a jacket in his arms. The one behind him was yelling, “stop him! Stop, thief!”

I grabbed the one in front. We grappled but he broke free. However, I made him drop the jacket and a couple of the books. Some athletic department employees working women’s basketball chased him, but he ultimately got away. Campus police came and took a report. The officer (Dave Jensen, who died about a year or so ago) told me a detective would be in touch with me. I didn’t ever hear back from the investigator.

A few months later, I spent most of a Saturday day shift riding patrol with a friend. After we finished up, we hung out in the campus police squad room with Dave Jensen and another officer. I remarked to Dave that the detective never called me and asked what happened.

Dave told me he immediately knew who the “perpetrator” was the moment he heard my description. The “perp” was a sex worker who lived close to campus. The “victim” admitted he stiffed the “perp” out of $20 upstairs at Family and Food Sciences, and the “perp” had done some “legal self-help” by grabbing the trick’s jacket and books and taking off with them.

The “case” was resolved by payment of the $20 and the return of the rest of the books when the detective came calling. No one went to jail and everyone wound up happy.

I haven’t heard very much about cruising for sex on campus lately. I suspect apps like Tinder and Grindr have changed everything. There’s now no need to hang out around the hot spots since you can set everything up online beforehand.

Back in the day, cruising on campus was quite the topic. Local radio host Ray Appleton did an entire hysterical segment about it about 15 years ago. University police had an unspoken policy of ignoring it unless it got too out of hand, especially after the undercover operations in the local parks in the late 1990s and early 2000s provoked backlash and lawsuits against police.

Generally, the campus cops would work with community groups to get the word out to cease and desist for a while.

Dan Waterhouse writes The Collegian’s Campus Column, which prints on Wednesdays. Waterhouse  is a lifelong Fresnan. He has written for the Fresno City College and Fresno State student newspapers over the years, including other local publications. Follow him on Twitter: @WaterhouseDan

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