For those who haven’t heard of Shag At Uni (which apparently isn’t many people in Nottingham), it’s a website that enables horny students to find each other and engage in casual sex. It was created in 2012 by Tom Thurlow, and has enjoyed a considerable amount of success, with around 150,000 users. Last month it emerged that Nottingham has the most daily unique users of the site out of all university cities in the UK, with an average of 1477. This may sound like an amusing statistic, but is the advocacy of casual sex really something to laugh at?

During its almost four year tenure, Shag At Uni has attracted an unsurprising amount of criticism. As a sister site to Date At Uni, the somewhat more innocent website also created by Thurlow, it was widely criticised for its encouragement of no-strings-attached sex. In 2014, it was announced that lecturers could join the site for free, with Thurlow claiming on The Telegraph online that it ‘empowers student choice’. He even went as far as to say that university policies should be reviewed to allow lecturers more freedom to have relationships with students. Yet in this instance he seems to have forgotten that relationships aren’t on the agenda of most people who sign up to Shag At Uni. It would seriously throw into doubt the professionalism of any academic if they were found to be using the site.

“In 2014, it was announced that lecturers could join the site for free, with Thurlow claiming on The Telegraph online that it ‘empowers student choice’”

This move led to several universities blocking the site on their campuses. Although they took a clear stand against the website in doing so, this did not deter students from signing up, with more and more people using it every year. Rather than simply blocking the site, perhaps universities should be trying to offer students advice on the issue of casual sex.

The predominant problem with students having casual sex is the obvious safety aspect. In a survey for the Mail Online in 2011, 72% of students claimed that they had had a one night stand. This indicates that a large amount of students go home with someone, probably who they didn’t know before, at the end of a night out. This throws up a multitude of potentially dangerous situations. Furthermore, the phrase ‘casual sex’ in itself implies having sex with someone you barely know, thus raising questions of whether that person can be trusted; yet this is what Shag At Uni encourages.

In addition to the risk of sexual assault, having casual sex with somebody encountered on a website poses the danger of catching an STD. The Mail Online reported in 2013 that a quarter of students catch an STD in their first year of university; it is highly probable that a large number of these cases arise from students having unprotected sex with people they hardly know. With no knowledge of other users’ sexual history, students who use the site face a significant risk.

“Having casual sex with somebody encountered on a website poses the danger of catching an STD”

Though Tom Thurlow sees nothing wrong with a website that simply provides students with a means to have non-committal sex with a stranger, its critics have wisely pointed out the dangers and downright stupidity of it. Nottingham may apparently be the horniest university city, but in this case that’s nothing to be proud of.

Rachel Harrison

Image: hobvias sudoneighm via Flickr

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