Georgia Ringle's thoughts on campus coexistence
l a m a r   c l a r k s o n
What are your general impressions of intimacy between students at Davidson?
What do you see going well or going badly?
This school is so small, and there tends to be pressure on people if they
do try to reach out and be intimate with someone, and maybe they're not
sure they want this to be public or committed or anything more than an
experiment. They're afraid to be experimental because it will be noted.
That's a lot of pressure for an experiment; you don't want to have to
defend it. I'm most pleased when I see people express their hearts and
be open and be true to themselves no matter who they are and who they're
with. So if they are naturally affectionate and loving, that they would
continue to do that, that they're not afraid to be expressive. We have
a real sense of conformity about life here. It sounds bizarre, but yet
it's very real. You could cut it with a knife. There are certain acceptable
behaviors. They can be edgy, and they can be out there and different,
but you know when you've crossed the line somehow. And that's not safe.
It's not safe to be who you are and say what you want to say.
I am amazed that so many Davidson students--and this is a
fabulous statistic--end up partnering with or marrying other Davidson
students after they graduate. I think we throw together a decent pool
of people that have similar likes and dislikes or thoughts and values.
And maybe, developmentally, it's easier to do it later, but in some sense
I feel like we're missing some opportunities here to just relax and meet
Or maybe those are the people who dated for a long time while they were
here or started dating their senior year.
But the number's too high! We don't have that amount of dating. Yeah,
I kind of hope those people break up. You worry about people who are together
too long--it's like, "Get a life!" You worry it's too secure.
I've heard people who have graduated say that it's hard to meet people
because their world is so much smaller. They're in a job in a city, and
they only know the people they knew before. But right now we're here,
and we've got such a great opportunity to get to know so many like-minded
people around us and to develop lasting relationships. I don't think we
realize, well, first of all that we will graduate, and then that it will
be more difficult to make a lot of new, satisfying friendships once we're
out of this ready-made, instant social environment.
Yeah, I get this real sense from seniors that they're going to fall off
the edge of the earth. You may be going to New York and to a job, but
I can find you there, and I can still communicate with you. That's the
other sad thing that happens--people cut off relationships now, senior
year, thinking "I can have no ties." I mean, where are you going?
What planet will you be orbiting? Maybe I won't see you every minute,
but I can sure communicate with you.
I think there's a real fear of the physical, and therefore
I think we wait until we're drunk, and then we have the assault issue.
That's got to be the worst lovemaking ever. The drunken hookup has just
not got to be very good, in terms of sexual peak and pleasure.
Although I don't ever like to criticize the Court because
it's hands-off zone, a free space. This sounds contradictory, but I don't
mean it to be so--it's kind of like no censorship. I don't really care:
if you choose to go, go, but if it offends you don't go. But if that's
the only way that you can be the pimp or the ho, that's not healthy because
you'll overact at that party and get in trouble. Play it if it's fun for
you, but don't have that be the only arena [for sexual expression] because
then you'll get extreme.
I don't go down to the Court often, but sometimes at the big
parties like first night down and self-selection, I've been really amazed
at some of the same-sex intimacy I've observed there. I've seen the couple
in the bushes, and I'm actually the fool that gets the policeman to say,
"Is it consensual?" and then we leave them alone--that's my
only concern. But what impresses me is the same-sex intimacy. They're
very drunk and they're very playful, and maybe it's their true self, or
maybe it's not. Maybe they have no memory of this, but it's very Felini-esque
and free. I guess I wish we didn't have to have the setup to express [sexuality
and intimacy], but if it opens things up, and if there's any recognition
that it happened, any awareness, then people are closer, and that's fine.
That's good stuff.
There are all kinds of different levels of intimacy. I think
it's fabulous to have an in-class academic experience where you've pushed
yourself and you've thought of something and you were brave enough to
put it out there on the table, and someone else picked it up. Then you've
both got that thought going or that point of view, or you both saw this
interesting film. The thing I think is that people get caught up in physical
attraction or the way people dress or the coolness, and it's truly the
brain in the end that is going to be intimate; it's the sharing of like
minds and attitudes. The physical's great, but it's available at your
fingertips. What really worries me is when people stay closed. I know
there's confusion, hurt, and pain, and I know we don't always know what
we're feeling, but if you don't even try, it's going to keep you isolated.
There is a lot of loneliness on campus. I think it's very risky to meet
new people and be in a new group.
I also try as hard as I can to dispel the notion that intercourse
is the ultimate expression of intimacy. It could be, but there's a whole
lot of other stuff leading up to it. I'm not judgmental. It's okay if
you just have a partner you have sex with, but I don't consider you guys
intimate. You're sexually intimate, but that's it. That's fine if that's
what you need and that's clear and there are no other attachments, but
that's not an intimate relationship. There are some people, on the other
hand, who could just argue intellectually and debate and not be intimate,
not ever cross that line and say, "I feel this way about this issue."
I feel very privileged in my position on the campus. What
I do is a great entree to intimacy with students. When I meet with them,
the kinds of issues we talk about let me see a really wonderful secret
side to people. I think sometimes they're surprised that I'm not more
focused on the mechanics or the difficulty of a situation--that I'm trying
to get right in the heart of what it is. I'm not concerned with the intercourse
or the birth control because I know that will work out once everything
else is in place. I think, too, if I were to give the Davidson students
anything it would be permission to focus on intimacy.
Yeah, a lot of people say they don't have time.
It needs to be a priority, and they seek it, and they just don't see that
they're seeking it.
When you're in a place like this and you need to talk about things, you
actually have to make the effort. Last spring a bunch of women faculty
and women students talked about building female community at Davidson.
I found that the best thing I can do for myself sometimes is to make that
time. My roommates and I cook Friday night dinners, and then we'll invite
underclass women we like or want to get to know better down to our apartment
to hang out. If you make those efforts and reach out to people you think
are cool, all of a sudden you have a community.
You do. People are ready to do it. Or even when I walk across campus,
I don't have to walk alone. If there's somebody else walking in my direction,
and if I make eye contact and say hi and where are you from, we start
talking. And maybe it's because every freshman's required to see me, but
I still think that can happen. We don't have to walk alone places. We
don't have to eat alone. There can be some forays into new friendships,
or even just meeting new people. It's another name you know and another
person you nod to.