Across The Country, Universities Look To Mainstream Polyamory


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Universities across the country have begun actively pushing polyamory on campus, encouraging students to be more “affirming” of non-monogamous relationships and instructing them to view polyamorous relationships as an acceptable lifestyle choice.

Just this March, Portland State University hosted an event on polyamory as part of “Sex Week,” sponsored by the university’s Queer Resource Center. Students were invited to attend a discussion titled “Exploring Non-Monogamy.” The event was hosted in partnership with PSU’s “Polyamory Alliance,” a pro-polyamory student group.

According to the group’s description, the Polyamory Alliance “advocates, educates, and provides support and community to those who are polyamorous or those who identify as monogamous but would like to show support to the polyamorous person in their life.” Similar pro-polyamory student groups exist at the University of Minnesota, Kalamazoo College, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Also in March, the University of Michigan held an event titled “Navigating Relationships: Routing Our Own Courses,” as part of the university’s LGBTQ+ Health and Wellness Week. The event was advertised as “a facilitated discussion-style workshop on navigating healthy relationships, with an emphasis on polyamory and relationships involving asexual and/or aromantic partners.”

Michigan’s polyamory event took place just five days after a similar event at Pace University, located in New York.

The Pace event was titled: “Queer Sex outside the Margins: Queer Wellness Panel” and sought to answer questions such as “What is polyamory?” and “What’s all the buzz with BDSM?” According to the university website, the event placed a special focus on “kink, pornography, and sex positivity within the queer community.”

In February, Vanderbilt University sponsored a workshop titled “Deconstructing couplehood,” as part of the university’s Out in Front LGBTQIA+ & Ally College Conference.

The workshop was advertised as “a crash course in polyamory” in which students would “deconstruct the ‘ideal’ and privileged relationship (that is straight, monogamous, married or heading that way, presumably white and middle to upper class), and look towards the other myriad ways to love and form community.”

Back in New York, University at Albany-SUNY sponsored a monthly “Polyamorous talk” for students this year. Students at the taxpayer-funded university were invited to come “talk about the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.”

Last December, Columbia University held an event titled “Polyamory as a Clinical Intervention: Affirming and Appreciating Nonmonogamies.” According to the university website, the event was part of a series on “various topics relevant to the health, mental health, and wellbeing of LGBT individuals, families, and communities.”

Similarly, the University of California at Berkeley held a three-part series on “polyamory and non-monogamy.” The series was put on this semester by the university’s Gender Equity Resources Center, which also offers resources to help students become more accepting of polyamory.

One such resource instructs Berkeley students to be respectful of polyamorous relationships by avoiding making “assumptions,” and being aware of the “stigmatization” that polyamorous people face. The resource also informs students that “many polyamorous relationships can be just as fulfilling and last just as long as monogamous relationships.”

The University of Wisconsin offers a similar resource to students, titled Polyamory 101. The resource includes a lexicon of polyamorous terminology, like the term “Intentional Family,” which is defined as “a relationship in which three or more partners consciously chose each other as family.”

Members of an “intentional family” “may or may not live together [and] there is the potential for all family members to be sexual with each other if they mutually chose to do so but this is not a requirement for family membership,” the resource states.

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