The Tam News

Getting personal: Craigslist offers more than just furniture

Kristina Willis

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The man was around five feet seven inches and had brown hair that came down just over his ears. The Tam student, whom we’ll call Taylor because he requested anonymity, was contacted by him after posting a request on Craigslist personals. Taylor thought he was attractive; not too tan and not heavy, but not too thin or gangly either. “A little less than husky,” Taylor said. Of the three encounters with Craigslist men that Taylor has found on the Internet and later met with in person, this man is the easiest to remember. After chatting with the man for a while over the Internet, Taylor and the man decided to meet up. “He lived far awayish so he had to drive down here, and then we got in his car and we drove to a spot,” Taylor said. “And then we hooked up for awhile and did some sucking and then some f***ing.”

Most Tam students view Craigslist as a site to purchase used goods and not as a site to find sexual partners. Whether you’re browsing for a new bookcase in the furniture section or a used car to buy and give a nickname, Craigslist has it for you. It’s the eleventh most visited website in the United States, it’s utilized by 50 million different users every month and a Tam News survey of 184 Tam students found that 115 of those polled have used Craigslist.

Alongside numerous sections to find material items, however, are ads for jobs, relationship or sex requests and other personal services. These controversial sections have made Craigslist a target of the media and various activist groups who point fingers at the site, claiming that it promotes human trafficking and prostitution.

One area of Craigslist, the personals, is an 18-plus section that, according to the Tam News survey, approximately 20 percent of Tam students have browsed even though it is technically illegal. Under the broad personals category are specific sections, such as ‘women seeking men,’ ‘men seeking men,’ ‘casual encounters,’ so on and so forth, that you can click to narrow down your search. Ads for anything from “romantic motorcycle rides” and “young dudes needing to get some” pop up as you scroll down the page.

Surprisingly, Craigslist personals are accessable on campus computers. Despite the administration’s constant updates on blocked sites, they have failed to censor the ads. Any student can log on with a Tam computer and browse Craigslist personals, many featuring explicit photos of various nude body parts at school.

Alongside more innocent titles, come explicit ads that suggest why the site is for 18 years old and above. Headings such as “Let Me Worship Your C**k Tonight” and “Suck Down a Load of Daddy C**” dominate the more specific listings and although photos of naked bodies are often featured in a request, there is no real verification of age. Before entering the personals section is a simple white page asking the viewer to agree to a list of terms before clicking a button to enter. In short, these terms state that the viewer is at least 18 years old, understands that there may be adult content, agrees to flag prohibited content and report exploitation of minors and human trafficking to appropriate authorities.

Nevertheless, it’s easy enough for anyone, including underage Tam students, to skip over the terms or simply ignore them. Once one clicks the button, they’re free to browse as they wish. “You go around, see who looks interesting, and whether it be for sexual purposes or just because you want to be friendly, you email them,” said an anonymous Tam student (whom we’ll call Charlie).

Responding to posts through email often results in a conversation between the two participants. Sometimes it evolves to video chat or IM, which may evolve into something more sexual. Charlie said, “Two person conversations often turn into erotica which can be posted anywhere and anyone can get off to it.”

According to Charlie, although people react different when told that they’re actually underage, statutory rape is not generally a worry. “Younger guys or girls 21 or 22, don’t really care. I talk to them first and then they’re okay with it,” he said. “And then there are older people, and 50 percent of them just do not care and then the other 50 have a form of morals and they say ‘I don’t feel comfortable with that’ and I say ‘okay that’s fine.’”

However, there is also a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in place, which has resulted in successful meetings with people that students find on Craigslist. Taylor recounts that, of the men he’s met with, some knew that he was underage and others didn’t. “Age is just a number. If you’re mature enough to be able to handle something like this then I don’t think it matters,” Taylor said. “It’s just sex.”

Sex with strangers, however, does have its dangers. Philip Markoff, dubbed the Craigslist Killer by the media, allegedlyrobbed and attacked three women whom he met through Craigslist. One of his victims, Julissa Brisman, was beaten with a gun and shot three times at a Boston hotel. Markoff committed suicide in prison and was never legally punished for his deeds.

The Tam News survey also revealed that 51 percent of the students polled knew someone who has used Craigslist personals by either responding to a post created by someone else or by forming their own requests. A Tam student, after browsing posts, talking with the posters, and eventually meeting some, decided to make a Craigslist ad requesting a threesome. A close friend of the student said, “He asked me [if I wanted a threesome] and I said yes, but he didn’t know who else to ask, so he posted an ad saying something like ‘Two teens looking for a third.’ We got 30 responses or so.” Although they answered three of the responses they received, the two never ended up meeting with a third. “We were like, ‘let’s get to know you better’ and that scared a lot of people,” said the anonymous friend.

Although, some people browse Craigslist for quality friendships, many post on Craigslist personals in search for noncommittal sexual activities after which they never see or talk to the person. “There’s no questions asked, you’re on Craigslist for sex, you don’t need to have a relationship, you don’t need to worry about dating a guy, so you can have something different. You say, ‘I want sex, this is who I am, let’s meet up and do it,’” said Charlie. Taylor reports having talked to someone for only two hours before meeting up, as well as chatting for a couple days with another. “It all depends,” said Taylor.

No Tam students interviewed said they had encountered a dangerous Craigslist predator. “It’s not as sketch as a lot of people think it is,” said Taylor. “I’ve never had a life threatening experience. No sixty-year-old man tried to kill me, nothing like that.”

Charlie recognized the dangers of finding sexual partners on the Internet, but also proposed ways to check someone’s legitimacy. “There are people on there and you know they’re safe people because they have the exact same picture used over and over again and you know they’ve gotten with other people,” Charlie said. “In the Craigslist community, you say that you’re HIV negative, you wouldn’t lie about that.” In addition to trusting that people won’t lie, the Craigslist community has each others backs, according to Charlie. When one member encounters an unsafe poster, they’ll often create a posting warning other Craigslist users about them, he said.

However, there are HIV carriers who don’t care about infecting other people and these predators may be finding victims on Craigslist. Two men in South Dakota were arrested and charged for having unprotected sex even though they knew they were infected with HIV. “One of the men, James Lee Woods, 41, was charged with four counts of HIV exposure involving three men. The other, William Kenneth Jenigen, 35, was charged with exposure that involved three people,” wrote New York Times reporter Jo Napolitano in an article titled “South Dakota: More Arrests For H.I.V. Exposure.”

Additionally, some people may not know that they are carrying the virus. A study taken in Wisconsin found that 37 percent of those who tested positive for HIV had already developed AIDS, suggesting that had been infected seven to 10 years earlier without realizing it. This also means that they could have been spreading the virus without their knowledge.

Taylor, who’s met numerous people from Craigslist, agrees with Charlie that trust is a huge factor among other things. “You have to be really horny, it’s the number one step,” Taylor said. “But meeting someone, you have to feel comfortable enough with the person and they have to feel comfortable enough with you and you trust them enough to be who they say they are. There’s definitely a level of trust that goes into this.”

Students are also careful when they meet people from Craigslist. They specify meeting in a public place and letting a friend or family member know where they’re going ahead of time. Charlie said, “You do it like a blind date, wear something like a tie and a checkered suit so you can stand out.”

So what happens after one of these blind dates or hook-ups? According to Taylor, nothing at all. “I don’t talk to any of these people that I’ve hooked up with anymore,” Taylor said. “There’s no emotional connection, it’s just sex. Just a blow and go.”

Although casual sex can be easier and exciting, it may have its psychological side-effects. Groundbreaking research published by Dr. Donald Joy, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies, found that when natural human emotional responses are denied, the person’s capacity to bond with another is weakened. In other words, casual sex impairs ones ability to establish a lasting emotional bond later in life. Another study, conducted by Professor Anne Campbell of Durham University, found that 46 percent of women felt bad about themselves after one night stands and concluded that casual encounters are harmful to women.

On the other hand, other researchers have found that casual sex among young adults does not actually have psychological consequences. Marla E. Eisenberg, Doctor of Science and Doctor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and her colleagues collected data from an ongoing survey and found no differences between the psychological wellbeing of adults who had casual partners when they were young adults versus committed partners. However, they still caution against casual sex. “While the findings from this study show that young adults engaging in casual sexual encounters do not appear to be at increased risk for harmful psychological outcomes compared to those in more committed relationships, this should not minimize the legitimate threats to physical well-being associated with casual sexual relationships, and the need for such messages in sexuality education programs and other interventions with young adults,” Eisenberg said.

Tam students that have used Craigslist personals, however, disagree that finding partners on Craigslist personals is completely dangerous.

“I know that a lot of people who have never done it probably think that this is ridiculous and just stupid and you hear stories about people who have been abducted, and I know that it is dangerous, but so is crossing the street,” Charlie added. “It’s dangerous, but if you’re level headed and you have some sort of logic, it is safe.”

Some students do argue that Craigslist personals are not limited to sexual purposes. Just like other areas of the internet, Craigslist is a place where anyone can be anonymous. “I made an alias. Under a different name I have a different appearance and I’ve made a completely different person than who I actually am just because I want to be somebody I’m not for a little while,” said Charlie.

“Craigslist personals allow Tam students to be themselves and satisfy their sexual needs,” said Taylor. Although he has no fear of receiving judgment for being bisexual, Taylor pursues people on Craigslist because it is simply easier. “It’s easy to meet girls [off the internet], but meeting guys, you have no idea who’s what. On Craigslist you know who’s into guys,” said Taylor.

“What would be even nicer is if [society] stopped being so judgmental. You wouldn’t have to worry about us going on Craigslist to find people who are like-minded,” said Charlie. “Once judgment starts going down about a lot of other things like homosexual relationships or non vanilla thinkers, a lot of Craigslist activity will die down because we’ll be more free to just ask our partner.”

Written by Kristina Willis. This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.
The man was around five feet seven inches and had brown hair that came down just over his ears.  The Tam student, whom we’ll call Taylor because he requested anonymity, was contacted by him after posting a request on Craigslist personals.  Taylor thought he was attractive; not too tan and not heavy, but not too thin or gangly either.  “A little less than husky,” Taylor said.  Of the three encounters with Craigslist men that Taylor has found on the Internet and later met with in person, this man is the easiest to remember.  After chatting with the man for a while over the Internet, Taylor and the man decided to meet up.  “He lived far awayish so he had to drive down here, and then we got in his car and we drove to a spot,” Taylor said.  “And then we hooked up for awhile and did some sucking and then some f***ing.” Most Tam students view Craigslist as a site to purchase used goods and not as a site to find sexual partners.  Whether you’re browsing for a new bookcase in the furniture section or a used car to buy and give a nickname, Craigslist has it for you.  It’s the eleventh most visited website in the United States, it’s utilized by 50 million different users every month and a Tam News survey of 184 Tam students found that 115 of those polled have used Craigslist.
Alongside numerous sections to find material items, however, are ads for jobs, relationship or sex requests and other personal services.  These controversial sections have made Craigslist a target of the media and various activist groups who point fingers at the site, claiming that it promotes human trafficking and prostitution.
One area of Craigslist, the personals, is an 18-plus section that, according to the Tam News survey, approximately 20 percent of Tam students have browsed even though it is technically illegal.  Under the broad personals category are specific sections, such as ‘women seeking men,’ ‘men seeking men,’ ‘casual encounters,’ so on and so forth, that you can click to narrow down your search.  Ads for anything from “romantic motorcycle rides” and “young dudes needing to get some” pop up as you scroll down the page.
Surprisingly, Craigslist personals are accessable on campus computers.  Despite the administration’s constant updates on blocked sites, they have failed to censor the ads.   Any student can log on with a Tam computer and browse Craigslist personals, many featuring explicit photos of various nude body parts at school.
Alongside more innocent titles, come explicit ads that suggest why the site is for 18 years old and above.  Headings such as “Let Me Worship Your C**k Tonight” and “Suck Down a Load of Daddy C**” dominate the more specific listings and although photos of naked bodies are often featured in a request, there is no real verification of age.  Before entering the personals section is a simple white page asking the viewer to agree to a list of terms before clicking a button to enter.  In short, these terms state that the viewer is at least 18 years old, understands that there may be adult content, agrees to flag prohibited content and report exploitation of minors and human trafficking to appropriate authorities.
Nevertheless, it’s easy enough for anyone, including underage Tam students, to skip over the terms or simply ignore them.  Once one clicks the button, they’re free to browse as they wish.  “You go around, see who looks interesting, and whether it be for sexual purposes or just because you want to be friendly, you email them,” said an anonymous Tam student (whom we’ll call Charlie).
Responding to posts through email often results in a conversation between the two participants.  Sometimes it evolves to video chat or IM, which may evolve into something more sexual.  Charlie said, “Two person conversations often turn into erotica which can be posted anywhere and anyone can get off to it.”
According to Charlie, although people react different when told that they’re actually underage, statutory rape is not generally a worry.  “Younger guys or girls 21 or 22, don’t really care.  I talk to them first and then they’re okay with it,” he said.  “And then there are older people, and 50 percent of them just do not care and then the other 50 have a form of morals and they say ‘I don’t feel comfortable with that’ and I say ‘okay that’s fine.’”
However, there is also a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in place, which has resulted in successful meetings with people that students find on Craigslist.  Taylor recounts that, of the men he’s met with, some knew that he was underage and others didn’t.  “Age is just a number.  If you’re mature enough to be able to handle something like this then I don’t think it matters,” Taylor said.  “It’s just sex.”
Sex with strangers, however, does have its dangers.  Philip Markoff, dubbed the Craigslist Killer by the media, allegedlyrobbed and attacked three women whom he met through Craigslist.  One of his victims, Julissa Brisman, was beaten with a gun and shot three times at a Boston hotel.  Markoff committed suicide in prison and was never legally punished for his deeds.
The Tam News survey also revealed that 51 percent of the students polled knew someone who has used Craigslist personals by either responding to a post created by someone else or by forming their own requests.  A Tam student, after browsing posts, talking with the posters, and eventually meeting some, decided to make a Craigslist ad requesting a threesome.  A close friend of the student said, “He asked me [if I wanted a threesome] and I said yes, but he didn’t know who else to ask, so he posted an ad saying something like ‘Two teens looking for a third.’  We got 30 responses or so.”  Although they answered three of the responses they received, the two never ended up meeting with a third.  “We were like, ‘let’s get to know you better’ and that scared a lot of people,” said the anonymous friend.
Although, some people browse Craigslist for quality friendships, many post on Craigslist personals in search for noncommittal sexual activities after which they never see or talk to the person.  “There’s no questions asked, you’re on Craigslist for sex, you don’t need to have a relationship, you don’t need to worry about dating a guy, so you can have something different. You say, ‘I want sex, this is who I am, let’s meet up and do it,’” said Charlie. Taylor reports having talked to someone for only two hours before meeting up, as well as chatting for a couple days with another.  “It all depends,” said Taylor.
No Tam students interviewed said they had encountered a dangerous Craigslist predator. “It’s not as sketch as a lot of people think it is,” said Taylor.  “I’ve never had a life threatening experience.  No sixty-year-old man tried to kill me, nothing like that.”
Charlie recognized the dangers of finding sexual partners on the Internet, but also proposed ways to check someone’s legitimacy.  “There are people on there and you know they’re safe people because they have the exact same picture used over and over again and you know they’ve gotten with other people,” Charlie said.  “In the Craigslist community, you say that you’re HIV negative, you wouldn’t lie about that.”  In addition to trusting that people won’t lie, the Craigslist community has each others backs, according to Charlie. When one member encounters an unsafe poster, they’ll often create a posting warning other Craigslist users about them, he said.
However, there are HIV carriers who don’t care about infecting other people and these predators may be finding victims on Craigslist.  Two men in South Dakota were arrested and charged for having unprotected sex even though they knew they were infected with HIV.  “One of the men, James Lee Woods, 41, was charged with four counts of HIV exposure involving three men. The other, William Kenneth Jenigen, 35, was charged with exposure that involved three people,” wrote New York Times reporter Jo Napolitano in an article titled “South Dakota: More Arrests For H.I.V. Exposure.”
Additionally, some people may not know that they are carrying the virus. A study taken in Wisconsin found that 37 percent of those who tested positive for HIV had already developed AIDS, suggesting that had been infected seven to 10 years earlier without realizing it.  This also means that they could have been spreading the virus without their knowledge.
Taylor, who’s met numerous people from Craigslist, agrees with Charlie that trust is a huge factor among other things.  “You have to be really horny, it’s the number one step,” Taylor said.  “But meeting someone, you have to feel comfortable enough with the person and they have to feel    comfortable enough with you and you trust them enough to be who they say they are.  There’s definitely a level of trust that goes into this.”
Students are also careful when they meet people from Craigslist.  They specify meeting in a public place and letting a friend or family member know where they’re going ahead of time.  Charlie said, “You do it like a blind date, wear something like a tie and a checkered suit so you can stand out.”
So what happens after one of these blind dates or hook-ups?  According to Taylor, nothing at all.  “I don’t talk to any of these people that I’ve hooked up with anymore,” Taylor said.  “There’s no emotional connection, it’s just sex.  Just a blow and go.”
Although casual sex can be easier and exciting, it may have its psychological side-effects.  Groundbreaking research published by Dr. Donald Joy, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies, found that when natural human emotional responses are denied, the person’s capacity to bond with another is weakened.  In other words, casual sex impairs ones ability to establish a lasting emotional bond later in life. Another study, conducted by Professor Anne Campbell of Durham University, found that 46 percent of women felt bad about themselves after one night stands and concluded that casual encounters are harmful to women.
On the other hand, other researchers have found that casual sex among young adults does not actually have psychological consequences.  Marla E. Eisenberg, Doctor of Science and Doctor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and her colleagues collected data from an ongoing survey and found no differences between the psychological wellbeing of adults who had casual partners when they were young adults versus committed partners.  However, they still caution against casual sex. “While the findings from this study show that young adults engaging in casual sexual encounters do not appear to be at increased risk for harmful psychological outcomes compared to those in more committed relationships, this should not minimize the legitimate threats to physical well-being associated with casual sexual relationships, and the need for such messages in sexuality education programs and other interventions with young adults,” Eisenberg said.
Tam students that have used Craigslist personals, however, disagree that finding partners on Craigslist personals is completely dangerous.
“I know that a lot of people who have never done it probably think that this is ridiculous and just stupid and you hear stories about people who have been abducted, and I know that it is dangerous, but so is crossing the street,” Charlie added.  “It’s dangerous, but if you’re level headed and you have some sort of logic, it is safe.”
Some students do argue that Craigslist personals are not limited to sexual purposes.  Just like other areas of the internet, Craigslist is a place where anyone can be anonymous.  “I made an alias. Under a different name I have a different appearance and I’ve made a completely different person than who I actually am just because I want to be somebody I’m not for a little while,” said Charlie.
“Craigslist personals allow Tam students to be themselves and satisfy their sexual needs,” said Taylor. Although he has no fear of receiving judgment for being bisexual, Taylor pursues people on Craigslist because it is simply easier.  “It’s easy to meet girls [off the internet], but meeting guys, you have no idea who’s what.  On Craigslist you know who’s into guys,” said Taylor.
“What would be even nicer is if [society] stopped being so judgmental.  You wouldn’t have to worry about us going on Craigslist to find people who are like-minded,” said Charlie.   “Once judgment starts going down about a lot of other things like homosexual relationships or non vanilla thinkers, a lot of Craigslist activity will die down because we’ll be more free to just ask our partner.”
This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.

The man was around five feet seven inches and had brown hair that came down just over his ears. The Tam student, whom we’ll call Taylor because he requested anonymity, was contacted by him after posting a request on Craigslist personals. Taylor thought he was attractive; not too tan and not heavy, but not too thin or gangly either. “A little less than husky,” Taylor said. Of the three encounters with Craigslist men that Taylor has found on the Internet and later met with in person, this man is the easiest to remember. After chatting with the man for a while over the Internet, Taylor and the man decided to meet up. “He lived far awayish so he had to drive down here, and then we got in his car and we drove to a spot,” Taylor said. “And then we hooked up for awhile and did some sucking and then some f***ing.”

Most Tam students view Craigslist as a site to purchase used goods and not as a site to find sexual partners. Whether you’re browsing for a new bookcase in the furniture section or a used car to buy and give a nickname, Craigslist has it for you. It’s the eleventh most visited website in the United States, it’s utilized by 50 million different users every month and a Tam News survey of 184 Tam students found that 115 of those polled have used Craigslist.

Alongside numerous sections to find material items, however, are ads for jobs, relationship or sex requests and other personal services. These controversial sections have made Craigslist a target of the media and various activist groups who point fingers at the site, claiming that it promotes human trafficking and prostitution.

One area of Craigslist, the personals, is an 18-plus section that, according to the Tam News survey, approximately 20 percent of Tam students have browsed even though it is technically illegal. Under the broad personals category are specific sections, such as ‘women seeking men,’ ‘men seeking men,’ ‘casual encounters,’ so on and so forth, that you can click to narrow down your search. Ads for anything from “romantic motorcycle rides” and “young dudes needing to get some” pop up as you scroll down the page.

Surprisingly, Craigslist personals are accessable on campus computers. Despite the administration’s constant updates on blocked sites, they have failed to censor the ads. Any student can log on with a Tam computer and browse Craigslist personals, many featuring explicit photos of various nude body parts at school.

Alongside more innocent titles, come explicit ads that suggest why the site is for 18 years old and above. Headings such as “Let Me Worship Your C**k Tonight” and “Suck Down a Load of Daddy C**” dominate the more specific listings and although photos of naked bodies are often featured in a request, there is no real verification of age. Before entering the personals section is a simple white page asking the viewer to agree to a list of terms before clicking a button to enter. In short, these terms state that the viewer is at least 18 years old, understands that there may be adult content, agrees to flag prohibited content and report exploitation of minors and human trafficking to appropriate authorities.

Nevertheless, it’s easy enough for anyone, including underage Tam students, to skip over the terms or simply ignore them. Once one clicks the button, they’re free to browse as they wish. “You go around, see who looks interesting, and whether it be for sexual purposes or just because you want to be friendly, you email them,” said an anonymous Tam student (whom we’ll call Charlie).

Responding to posts through email often results in a conversation between the two participants. Sometimes it evolves to video chat or IM, which may evolve into something more sexual. Charlie said, “Two person conversations often turn into erotica which can be posted anywhere and anyone can get off to it.”

According to Charlie, although people react different when told that they’re actually underage, statutory rape is not generally a worry. “Younger guys or girls 21 or 22, don’t really care. I talk to them first and then they’re okay with it,” he said. “And then there are older people, and 50 percent of them just do not care and then the other 50 have a form of morals and they say ‘I don’t feel comfortable with that’ and I say ‘okay that’s fine.’”

However, there is also a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in place, which has resulted in successful meetings with people that students find on Craigslist. Taylor recounts that, of the men he’s met with, some knew that he was underage and others didn’t. “Age is just a number. If you’re mature enough to be able to handle something like this then I don’t think it matters,” Taylor said. “It’s just sex.”

Sex with strangers, however, does have its dangers. Philip Markoff, dubbed the Craigslist Killer by the media, allegedlyrobbed and attacked three women whom he met through Craigslist. One of his victims, Julissa Brisman, was beaten with a gun and shot three times at a Boston hotel. Markoff committed suicide in prison and was never legally punished for his deeds.

The Tam News survey also revealed that 51 percent of the students polled knew someone who has used Craigslist personals by either responding to a post created by someone else or by forming their own requests. A Tam student, after browsing posts, talking with the posters, and eventually meeting some, decided to make a Craigslist ad requesting a threesome. A close friend of the student said, “He asked me [if I wanted a threesome] and I said yes, but he didn’t know who else to ask, so he posted an ad saying something like ‘Two teens looking for a third.’ We got 30 responses or so.” Although they answered three of the responses they received, the two never ended up meeting with a third. “We were like, ‘let’s get to know you better’ and that scared a lot of people,” said the anonymous friend.

Although, some people browse Craigslist for quality friendships, many post on Craigslist personals in search for noncommittal sexual activities after which they never see or talk to the person. “There’s no questions asked, you’re on Craigslist for sex, you don’t need to have a relationship, you don’t need to worry about dating a guy, so you can have something different. You say, ‘I want sex, this is who I am, let’s meet up and do it,’” said Charlie. Taylor reports having talked to someone for only two hours before meeting up, as well as chatting for a couple days with another. “It all depends,” said Taylor.

No Tam students interviewed said they had encountered a dangerous Craigslist predator. “It’s not as sketch as a lot of people think it is,” said Taylor. “I’ve never had a life threatening experience. No sixty-year-old man tried to kill me, nothing like that.”

Charlie recognized the dangers of finding sexual partners on the Internet, but also proposed ways to check someone’s legitimacy. “There are people on there and you know they’re safe people because they have the exact same picture used over and over again and you know they’ve gotten with other people,” Charlie said. “In the Craigslist community, you say that you’re HIV negative, you wouldn’t lie about that.” In addition to trusting that people won’t lie, the Craigslist community has each others backs, according to Charlie. When one member encounters an unsafe poster, they’ll often create a posting warning other Craigslist users about them, he said.

However, there are HIV carriers who don’t care about infecting other people and these predators may be finding victims on Craigslist. Two men in South Dakota were arrested and charged for having unprotected sex even though they knew they were infected with HIV. “One of the men, James Lee Woods, 41, was charged with four counts of HIV exposure involving three men. The other, William Kenneth Jenigen, 35, was charged with exposure that involved three people,” wrote New York Times reporter Jo Napolitano in an article titled “South Dakota: More Arrests For H.I.V. Exposure.”

Additionally, some people may not know that they are carrying the virus. A study taken in Wisconsin found that 37 percent of those who tested positive for HIV had already developed AIDS, suggesting that had been infected seven to 10 years earlier without realizing it. This also means that they could have been spreading the virus without their knowledge.

Taylor, who’s met numerous people from Craigslist, agrees with Charlie that trust is a huge factor among other things. “You have to be really horny, it’s the number one step,” Taylor said. “But meeting someone, you have to feel comfortable enough with the person and they have to feel comfortable enough with you and you trust them enough to be who they say they are. There’s definitely a level of trust that goes into this.”

Students are also careful when they meet people from Craigslist. They specify meeting in a public place and letting a friend or family member know where they’re going ahead of time. Charlie said, “You do it like a blind date, wear something like a tie and a checkered suit so you can stand out.”

So what happens after one of these blind dates or hook-ups? According to Taylor, nothing at all. “I don’t talk to any of these people that I’ve hooked up with anymore,” Taylor said. “There’s no emotional connection, it’s just sex. Just a blow and go.”

Although casual sex can be easier and exciting, it may have its psychological side-effects. Groundbreaking research published by Dr. Donald Joy, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies, found that when natural human emotional responses are denied, the person’s capacity to bond with another is weakened. In other words, casual sex impairs ones ability to establish a lasting emotional bond later in life. Another study, conducted by Professor Anne Campbell of Durham University, found that 46 percent of women felt bad about themselves after one night stands and concluded that casual encounters are harmful to women.

On the other hand, other researchers have found that casual sex among young adults does not actually have psychological consequences. Marla E. Eisenberg, Doctor of Science and Doctor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and her colleagues collected data from an ongoing survey and found no differences between the psychological wellbeing of adults who had casual partners when they were young adults versus committed partners. However, they still caution against casual sex. “While the findings from this study show that young adults engaging in casual sexual encounters do not appear to be at increased risk for harmful psychological outcomes compared to those in more committed relationships, this should not minimize the legitimate threats to physical well-being associated with casual sexual relationships, and the need for such messages in sexuality education programs and other interventions with young adults,” Eisenberg said.

Tam students that have used Craigslist personals, however, disagree that finding partners on Craigslist personals is completely dangerous.

“I know that a lot of people who have never done it probably think that this is ridiculous and just stupid and you hear stories about people who have been abducted, and I know that it is dangerous, but so is crossing the street,” Charlie added. “It’s dangerous, but if you’re level headed and you have some sort of logic, it is safe.”

Some students do argue that Craigslist personals are not limited to sexual purposes. Just like other areas of the internet, Craigslist is a place where anyone can be anonymous. “I made an alias. Under a different name I have a different appearance and I’ve made a completely different person than who I actually am just because I want to be somebody I’m not for a little while,” said Charlie.

“Craigslist personals allow Tam students to be themselves and satisfy their sexual needs,” said Taylor. Although he has no fear of receiving judgment for being bisexual, Taylor pursues people on Craigslist because it is simply easier. “It’s easy to meet girls [off the internet], but meeting guys, you have no idea who’s what. On Craigslist you know who’s into guys,” said Taylor.

“What would be even nicer is if [society] stopped being so judgmental. You wouldn’t have to worry about us going on Craigslist to find people who are like-minded,” said Charlie. “Once judgment starts going down about a lot of other things like homosexual relationships or non vanilla thinkers, a lot of Craigslist activity will die down because we’ll be more free to just ask our partner.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.

The man was around five feet seven inches and had brown hair that came down just over his ears. The Tam student, whom we’ll call Taylor because he requested anonymity, was contacted by him after posting a request on Craigslist personals. Taylor thought he was attractive; not too tan and not heavy, but not too thin or gangly either. “A little less than husky,” Taylor said. Of the three encounters with Craigslist men that Taylor has found on the Internet and later met with in person, this man is the easiest to remember. After chatting with the man for a while over the Internet, Taylor and the man decided to meet up. “He lived far awayish so he had to drive down here, and then we got in his car and we drove to a spot,” Taylor said. “And then we hooked up for awhile and did some sucking and then some f***ing.”

Most Tam students view Craigslist as a site to purchase used goods and not as a site to find sexual partners. Whether you’re browsing for a new bookcase in the furniture section or a used car to buy and give a nickname, Craigslist has it for you. It’s the eleventh most visited website in the United States, it’s utilized by 50 million different users every month and a Tam News survey of 184 Tam students found that 115 of those polled have used Craigslist.

Alongside numerous sections to find material items, however, are ads for jobs, relationship or sex requests and other personal services. These controversial sections have made Craigslist a target of the media and various activist groups who point fingers at the site, claiming that it promotes human trafficking and prostitution.

One area of Craigslist, the personals, is an 18-plus section that, according to the Tam News survey, approximately 20 percent of Tam students have browsed even though it is technically illegal. Under the broad personals category are specific sections, such as ‘women seeking men,’ ‘men seeking men,’ ‘casual encounters,’ so on and so forth, that you can click to narrow down your search. Ads for anything from “romantic motorcycle rides” and “young dudes needing to get some” pop up as you scroll down the page.

Surprisingly, Craigslist personals are accessable on campus computers. Despite the administration’s constant updates on blocked sites, they have failed to censor the ads. Any student can log on with a Tam computer and browse Craigslist personals, many featuring explicit photos of various nude body parts at school.

Alongside more innocent titles, come explicit ads that suggest why the site is for 18 years old and above. Headings such as “Let Me Worship Your C**k Tonight” and “Suck Down a Load of Daddy C**” dominate the more specific listings and although photos of naked bodies are often featured in a request, there is no real verification of age. Before entering the personals section is a simple white page asking the viewer to agree to a list of terms before clicking a button to enter. In short, these terms state that the viewer is at least 18 years old, understands that there may be adult content, agrees to flag prohibited content and report exploitation of minors and human trafficking to appropriate authorities.

Nevertheless, it’s easy enough for anyone, including underage Tam students, to skip over the terms or simply ignore them. Once one clicks the button, they’re free to browse as they wish. “You go around, see who looks interesting, and whether it be for sexual purposes or just because you want to be friendly, you email them,” said an anonymous Tam student (whom we’ll call Charlie).

Responding to posts through email often results in a conversation between the two participants. Sometimes it evolves to video chat or IM, which may evolve into something more sexual. Charlie said, “Two person conversations often turn into erotica which can be posted anywhere and anyone can get off to it.”

According to Charlie, although people react different when told that they’re actually underage, statutory rape is not generally a worry. “Younger guys or girls 21 or 22, don’t really care. I talk to them first and then they’re okay with it,” he said. “And then there are older people, and 50 percent of them just do not care and then the other 50 have a form of morals and they say ‘I don’t feel comfortable with that’ and I say ‘okay that’s fine.’”

However, there is also a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in place, which has resulted in successful meetings with people that students find on Craigslist. Taylor recounts that, of the men he’s met with, some knew that he was underage and others didn’t. “Age is just a number. If you’re mature enough to be able to handle something like this then I don’t think it matters,” Taylor said. “It’s just sex.”

Sex with strangers, however, does have its dangers. Philip Markoff, dubbed the Craigslist Killer by the media, allegedlyrobbed and attacked three women whom he met through Craigslist. One of his victims, Julissa Brisman, was beaten with a gun and shot three times at a Boston hotel. Markoff committed suicide in prison and was never legally punished for his deeds.

The Tam News survey also revealed that 51 percent of the students polled knew someone who has used Craigslist personals by either responding to a post created by someone else or by forming their own requests. A Tam student, after browsing posts, talking with the posters, and eventually meeting some, decided to make a Craigslist ad requesting a threesome. A close friend of the student said, “He asked me [if I wanted a threesome] and I said yes, but he didn’t know who else to ask, so he posted an ad saying something like ‘Two teens looking for a third.’ We got 30 responses or so.” Although they answered three of the responses they received, the two never ended up meeting with a third. “We were like, ‘let’s get to know you better’ and that scared a lot of people,” said the anonymous friend.

Although, some people browse Craigslist for quality friendships, many post on Craigslist personals in search for noncommittal sexual activities after which they never see or talk to the person. “There’s no questions asked, you’re on Craigslist for sex, you don’t need to have a relationship, you don’t need to worry about dating a guy, so you can have something different. You say, ‘I want sex, this is who I am, let’s meet up and do it,’” said Charlie. Taylor reports having talked to someone for only two hours before meeting up, as well as chatting for a couple days with another. “It all depends,” said Taylor.

No Tam students interviewed said they had encountered a dangerous Craigslist predator. “It’s not as sketch as a lot of people think it is,” said Taylor. “I’ve never had a life threatening experience. No sixty-year-old man tried to kill me, nothing like that.”

Charlie recognized the dangers of finding sexual partners on the Internet, but also proposed ways to check someone’s legitimacy. “There are people on there and you know they’re safe people because they have the exact same picture used over and over again and you know they’ve gotten with other people,” Charlie said. “In the Craigslist community, you say that you’re HIV negative, you wouldn’t lie about that.” In addition to trusting that people won’t lie, the Craigslist community has each others backs, according to Charlie. When one member encounters an unsafe poster, they’ll often create a posting warning other Craigslist users about them, he said.

However, there are HIV carriers who don’t care about infecting other people and these predators may be finding victims on Craigslist. Two men in South Dakota were arrested and charged for having unprotected sex even though they knew they were infected with HIV. “One of the men, James Lee Woods, 41, was charged with four counts of HIV exposure involving three men. The other, William Kenneth Jenigen, 35, was charged with exposure that involved three people,” wrote New York Times reporter Jo Napolitano in an article titled “South Dakota: More Arrests For H.I.V. Exposure.”

Additionally, some people may not know that they are carrying the virus. A study taken in Wisconsin found that 37 percent of those who tested positive for HIV had already developed AIDS, suggesting that had been infected seven to 10 years earlier without realizing it. This also means that they could have been spreading the virus without their knowledge.

Taylor, who’s met numerous people from Craigslist, agrees with Charlie that trust is a huge factor among other things. “You have to be really horny, it’s the number one step,” Taylor said. “But meeting someone, you have to feel comfortable enough with the person and they have to feel comfortable enough with you and you trust them enough to be who they say they are. There’s definitely a level of trust that goes into this.”

Students are also careful when they meet people from Craigslist. They specify meeting in a public place and letting a friend or family member know where they’re going ahead of time. Charlie said, “You do it like a blind date, wear something like a tie and a checkered suit so you can stand out.”

So what happens after one of these blind dates or hook-ups? According to Taylor, nothing at all. “I don’t talk to any of these people that I’ve hooked up with anymore,” Taylor said. “There’s no emotional connection, it’s just sex. Just a blow and go.”

Although casual sex can be easier and exciting, it may have its psychological side-effects. Groundbreaking research published by Dr. Donald Joy, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies, found that when natural human emotional responses are denied, the person’s capacity to bond with another is weakened. In other words, casual sex impairs ones ability to establish a lasting emotional bond later in life. Another study, conducted by Professor Anne Campbell of Durham University, found that 46 percent of women felt bad about themselves after one night stands and concluded that casual encounters are harmful to women.

On the other hand, other researchers have found that casual sex among young adults does not actually have psychological consequences. Marla E. Eisenberg, Doctor of Science and Doctor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and her colleagues collected data from an ongoing survey and found no differences between the psychological wellbeing of adults who had casual partners when they were young adults versus committed partners. However, they still caution against casual sex. “While the findings from this study show that young adults engaging in casual sexual encounters do not appear to be at increased risk for harmful psychological outcomes compared to those in more committed relationships, this should not minimize the legitimate threats to physical well-being associated with casual sexual relationships, and the need for such messages in sexuality education programs and other interventions with young adults,” Eisenberg said.

Tam students that have used Craigslist personals, however, disagree that finding partners on Craigslist personals is completely dangerous.

“I know that a lot of people who have never done it probably think that this is ridiculous and just stupid and you hear stories about people who have been abducted, and I know that it is dangerous, but so is crossing the street,” Charlie added. “It’s dangerous, but if you’re level headed and you have some sort of logic, it is safe.”

Some students do argue that Craigslist personals are not limited to sexual purposes. Just like other areas of the internet, Craigslist is a place where anyone can be anonymous. “I made an alias. Under a different name I have a different appearance and I’ve made a completely different person than who I actually am just because I want to be somebody I’m not for a little while,” said Charlie.

“Craigslist personals allow Tam students to be themselves and satisfy their sexual needs,” said Taylor. Although he has no fear of receiving judgment for being bisexual, Taylor pursues people on Craigslist because it is simply easier. “It’s easy to meet girls [off the internet], but meeting guys, you have no idea who’s what. On Craigslist you know who’s into guys,” said Taylor.

“What would be even nicer is if [society] stopped being so judgmental. You wouldn’t have to worry about us going on Craigslist to find people who are like-minded,” said Charlie. “Once judgment starts going down about a lot of other things like homosexual relationships or non vanilla thinkers, a lot of Craigslist activity will die down because we’ll be more free to just ask our partner.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.

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Getting personal: Craigslist offers more than just furniture