Tradition takes all kinds of forms. At Stanford University, for example, it means puckering up as part of Full Moon on the Quad, an event where upperclassmen welcome freshmen with a big, wet kiss. Once we passed this story around the office, we found that there were two camps of reactions: The first, incredulous, found it surprising, yet endearing. The latter simply asked, "But, doesn't that get everyone sick?" Good point.
Sure, the event is often followed by widespread cases of flu and mononucleosis, informally known as "the kissing disease" — the smooching soiree does take place at the start of cold and flu season, after all. But, according to the New York Times, there's no data to prove that the kissing event causes an increase in ill students. The subsequent sickness could be a result of the annual spread of germs combined with the confines of dorm-room living. And, since the university's leaders acknowledge the futility of trying to cancel the recurring event, they've instead opted to manage it with a focus on wellness.
Dr. Ira M. Friedman, the director at the university's Vaden Student Health Center, makes consent the primary goal. “We try to create an environment in which they don’t feel they must participate in the exchange of oral secretions." We're pretty sure calling kissing "oral secretions" is enough to turn some people away from the event. But, for those who do participate, there is a wealth of resources the university has implemented. One is a team of student sobriety monitors, who tote "Consent Is Sexy" signs. Another is the collection of peer health educators who live in dorms and screen participants for signs of illness before the event.
On site, there are also tables of mouthwash, mints, condoms, and dental dams — no, the dental dams are never used. And, since the event has been canceled just once in 2009 (blame it on swine flu), it looks like the Stanford tradition of makin' out is here to stay. (NY Times)