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The Daily Tar Heel

Virgins not alone at UNC

John Eskridge is a virgin — and he doesn’t care who knows.

A UNC sophomore from Morganton, Eskridge said he based his decision not to have sex on his strong Christian faith.

“God created sex as a beautiful thing between a man and a woman in marriage,” Eskridge said.

According to a survey conducted by Campus Health Services, Eskridge is not alone. Approximately 77 percent of students at UNC have had zero or one sexual partners in the past 12 months.

The survey, started in fall of 2008 and concluded in February 2009, also found that approximately 38 percent of students at UNC have never had sex.

“There is a misperception of the number of people students are having sex with,” said Sara Stahlman, a health educator at Campus Health Services.

Although the Campus Health Services survey only had an 11.5 percent response rate, Stahlman said the survey, which accounts for both UNC undergraduate and graduate students, is still an accurate reflection of the sexual atmosphere on campus.

“The hookup culture doesn’t really exist,” Stahlman said.

And for the nearly 40 percent of students who have never had sex, not all said they base their decision on religious beliefs.

“I’m waiting for the right person,” senior Marissa Spruiell said. “It is going to involve a lot of emotions for me.”

One benefit of waiting is never having to worry about pregnancy scares, Spruiell said.

And while she said she has never personally seen a downside to being a virgin, she said her friends who are also virgins have encountered relationship problems.

Eskridge, however, said he cannot think of a downside to waiting to have sex.

“Sex would be a fun thing,” he said, noting that he chooses to put his faith above sex and other actions he considers temptations, such as cursing, drinking and judging others.

Despite their individual decisions to hold on to virginity, the two recognize that they are susceptible to the stereotype that college students are promiscuous.

“I guess sex is just something that comes naturally with relationships at our age,” Spruiell said.

When the topic of sex is mentioned in conversation, neither Spruiell nor Eskridge is shy to admit to virginity. For Eskridge, talking about his decision is a chance to explain to others the benefits of waiting.

“I want them to know that there is an opportunity to change,” he said. “There is an opportunity to gain something much deeper than sex.”

Spruiell said she is not as eager to influence people’s decision to have sex.

“It’s your decision to make,” she said. “No one ever told me to do this. It was just something that I decided.”

Eskridge, Spruiell and others’ decisions to wait has serious health benefits, Stahlman said.

“The lower students can keep their lifetime number of partners, the less their risk of getting an STI,” she said.

And both Eskridge and Spruiell said the emotions involved in sex cannot be ignored.

“I’m not embarrassed by my decision to be a virgin,” Eskridge said. “When you have sex with someone, you’re giving a big part of yourself to them.”

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