All posts by Lauren Gurry

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Sophomore reaches out to campus for U.N. campaign

In 2000, the United Nations set forth eight goals, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to cut poverty in half by 2015.

With only five years left to reach these goals, the United Nations is preparing to review the MDGs for the last time on Sept. 20 and students from the College are supporting the cause.

Ryan Pilarski, a sophomore philosophy major and Bonner Scholar, spearheaded efforts at the College for students to attend the Millennium Campus Conference and sign a petition urging President Obama and Congress to uphold their commitment to the MDGs.

According to Pilarski, “If fulfilled, the MDGs will provide the poorest 17 percent of the world, who live on less than one American dollar a day, with the opportunity to attend primary school, drink clean water, afford better child and maternal health care and work towards a sustainable future.”

Pilarski learned about the conference this past summer when high-school friend Jen Byrnes, national outreach associate for the Millennium Campus Network, suggested he may be interested in the cause.

“There has been very little publicizing of these Millennium Development Goals, and so this conference, which is the last of its kind before the 2015 deadline, is a phenomenal opportunity to bring these positive commitments to light,” Pilarski said.

Upon learning about the petition to President Obama and Congress, Pilarski contacted Olaniyi Solebo, Student Government Association executive president, who contacted all student organizations via e-mail encouraging members to sign the petition.

In the e-mail, Solebo wrote, “Many people wish they could affect change in people’s everyday lives. This is an opportunity for ordinary Americans to bring much-needed political attention to these important goals and the plight of impoverished people.”

“This is a great example of how something that started with just a few people has turned into a worldwide movement,” Solebo said.

Pilarski connected this conference with his work as a Bonner Scholar by establishing a system with the Millennium Campus Network in which he receives $7 for each student at the College who cites Pilarski as the person who encouraged them to attend the conference, and donate it to College initiatives at the Albert C. Wagner Correctional Facility.

“The Wagner Collegiate Initiative money will go to support college-level classes for inmates at Wagner, in order for them to receive college credit,” Pilarski said. “For every (College) student who attends, there will be a positive opportunity for a young inmate.”

Patrick Donohue, director of the Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement, says Pilarski contacted him over the summer about connecting the cause to his work as a Bonner Scholar. Since Donohue and Pilarski work together on the Wagner project, both thought the Wagner Collegiate Initiative would be a valuable cause to support in conjunction with the Millennium Campus Conference.

Donohue said, “We want to take our partnership (with Wagner) to the next level — which means not only teaching classes in the prison — but making sure the inmate students are earning credits towards a degree.  Ryan’s donation will allow a few inmates to actually earn college credits from a community college in our network.”

Anyone interested in joining the effort can contact Ryan Pilarski at pilarski2@tcnj.edu.

Tips for dating at college

Lets Talk About Sex

You may have been a seasoned dating veteran in high school, but the game changes when you get to college. You’re in a close living space with the 50 or more people on your floor, and relationships are bound to quickly develop. Before you fall into the common freshmen dating traps, take a second to consider how your choices could play out.

Floorcest: It may seem like a great idea to date someone from your floor when you first arrive at the College. You’re in close proximity and will be able to spend a lot of time together.

The trick is that floorcest relationships burn out quickly for this exact reason. You learn what irritates you about a person quickly when you’re virtually living with them, and you may just need some time apart.

This isn’t to say that if you date someone on your floor it won’t work out. A couple from my freshman floor is still dating, going into our senior year.

High school relationships: It’s not easy to come into college dating your high school flame, especially if he or she is attending a different school, and I know from experience. Your schedules may be completely different, and it’s inevitable that you will go out and spend time with new people, causing tension.

It is possible for your relationship to last, but the most important factors to consider are honesty, and the college experience. Don’t let your boyfriend or girlfriend three hours away stop you from doing what you truly want to do at the College.

Be careful with random hook ups: In college, it becomes generally acceptable among your peers to have sexual, non-romantic relationships. Some people are capable of having this kind of relationship without becoming jealous, hurt or secretly interested, but it isn’t for everyone.

Before traveling down the hook-up path, reflect on what you really want. If you seriously want a long-term relationship, hook-ups probably aren’t your best bet because more times than not, a “no strings attached” relationship doesn’t become exclusive.

Be considerate of your roommate: Whether you are involved with your high school flame, your new college flame or just have a hook up buddy, it is always imperative to consider your roommate’s feelings.

You are sharing a living space with them for the next year, so it is important to keep in mind that what you want from your living space won’t always make them comfortable. Whether you’re perpetually locking your roommate out, or being constantly cozy in his or her presence, it’s likely that they’ll quickly become irritated. Have a conversation about what both of you feel is appropriate, and come to an agreement.

Don’t rush in: Although you may have clicked during Welcome Week, that doesn’t mean you’re a match made in heaven. You may just have a few things in common, and beyond that, be entirely incompatible.

You don’t need to find your new boyfriend or girlfriend within the first month of school. If you take the time to get to know the person you’re interested in, chances are higher that you will have a healthy, long-lasting relationship.

Lauren Gurry can be reached at gurry2@tcnj.edu.

Surviving summer romance

Lets Talk About Sex

If you’re dating someone who also attends the College, you’re lucky enough not to endure the stresses of a long-distance relationship during the academic year. Unfortunately, that changes quickly over the summer, when many college couples used to close proximity find themselves suddenly an hour or more apart.

This change, although it is short-term, can be shocking for couples that are assimilated to seeing their loved one several times a week. Having been through this experience more than once, here are my top five tips to ensure your romance survives the summer.

1. Discuss the terms before going home for the summer. It’s important to discuss your expectations of your long-distance summer with your partner before packing up your dorm room and heading home. Your significant other may expect to talk and see each other far more often or not nearly as often, so it’s vital to set the terms before you are already living through the long distance.

2. Find a balance between “not enough” and “too much.” A trap many couples fall into is either visiting their partner relentlessly, or not visiting them at all. If you’re spending the entire summer visiting your loved one, you’ll be spending a lot of money on gas, and your family and friends will feel both left out and rejected. On the other hand, if you rarely visit your partner, tension is bound to ensue. From my experience, visiting your partner for only a portion of the weekend is the best balance to strike.

3. Set standard times to talk with each other. It’s entirely possible that you and your partner will have opposite summer job schedules. For this reason, it’s vital to decide when and how often you’ll talk to each other. This goes along with the “not enough” versus “too much” tip. You don’t want to be spending countless hours on the phone with your partner, but never talking to them is unhealthy for the relationship.

4. Spend time with your friends. Summer is your chance to catch up with old friends, so don’t neglect them by spending superfluous amounts of time commuting to see your boyfriend or girlfriend. Make sure to invite them to group outings, meet your loved one and also spend time with your friends without your significant other.

5. Make your time together more meaningful. During the academic year, dates with your partner may typically consist of dinner and a movie, but since you’ll probably see one another less over the summer, a good idea is to make every moment memorable. You can include your friends, too, by taking trips to the shore, Six Flags, concerts and camping. Use your time off as an opportunity to do extra-fun things with the person you love.

Lauren Gurry can be reached at gurry2@tcnj.edu.

Couples celebrate b-days

Meaningful gifts show you care about your partner. (Tim Lee).

I’m one of those birthday fanatics. You know, the crazy people who count down to his or her birthday and remember everyone else’s birthdays without checking Facebook? Yep, that’s me. My birthday happens to be on April 21, so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about special things people do for their loved one’s birthdays.

Even though I’m obsessed with my birthday, I really believe birthdays should be less about the price tag on a present than the actual birthday experience. I would take a sentimental card, enjoyable dinner and time with people I care about over an expensive gift in a heartbeat.

“It’s more important what you do, not what you get,” said my long-term boyfriend, Eric Boonstra, who is a senior statistics major.

“It’s not necessarily going out and spending a lot of money. It sounds cliché, but it’s the thought that counts,” Boonstra said. “For example, a homemade dinner rather than a trip to a restaurant might be better because then you know your significant other put more thought in it.”

I don’t work an off-campus job during the academic year, so I was strapped for cash when Eric’s birthday came around in January. Instead of taking him out, we spent an evening in, and I made him a dinner of his choice from a cookbook. I had never made a meal more extensive than Hamburger Helper, so Eric really appreciated the effort I put in to make his birthday special.

One of my good friends, senior management major Mike Leatherwood, has been dating his girlfriend for more than one year, and he follows the same sentimental philosophy, emphasizing the element of surprise.

“I think it’s important to do something that he or she isn’t exactly expecting,” said Leatherwood, whose non-sports friendly girlfriend surprised him with tickets to a New York Mets game for his last birthday. “The element of surprise always makes birthdays more special and memorable. If you get to do something you have done before, I believe it won’t have as much meaning.”

Leatherwood brought his girlfriend to an Italian restaurant for her birthday last May, and surprised her with a heart-shaped necklace.

“I thought the heart would be good especially, since we were a new couple at the time, and it would show that I really care for her and that this relationship is something special.”

Kathy Escalante, sophomore Spanish secondary education major, says she and her boyfriend of two years like buying each other meaningful gifts.

Escalante’s boyfriend loves the computer game “World of Warcraft,” so for his birthday, Escalante got him action figures from the game and shirts from one of his favorite stores, Express. For Escalante’s birthday, her boyfriend brought her to an Italian restaurant and took her shopping.

“I definitely think (what’s important is) just making them feel special on their day … just doing anything special for them to enjoy it and make it memorable,” Escalante said.

Lauren Gurry can be reached at gurry2@tcnj.edu.

S&M for beginners: Easing into a new situation

After becoming comfortable in a sexual relationship, couples often times decide to become more adventurous, and a common avenue is S&M – sadomasochism – and rough sex.

The term sadomasochism finds its roots in the words sadism, meaning to enjoy inflicting pain, and masochism, meaning to enjoy pain being inflicted on oneself. According to Discovery Health, sadomasochism is most simply defined as the eroticizing of pain during sexual intercourse.

Although this path definitely isn’t for everyone, it is important to debunk the stigmas connected to S&M before providing fodder for ideas. There is a common misconception that sadomasochism is essentially rape, but this isn’t the case, since sadomasochism is fully consensual.

American media also portray sadomasochism in it’s most extreme states, like whips, chains, and handcuffs, but in reality, a couple is practicing sadomasochism if they even lightly bite one another during intercourse.

If you have never indulged in rough sex or S&M before, you’re likely thinking to yourself, “Why would anyone enjoy being hurt or hurting their partner during sex?”

The answer to this question is very simple, biological, and may seem weird: Pain, just like pleasure, releases endorphins, the compound connected to pleasure and enjoyment. The masochist recognizes that being spanked or squeezed is slightly painful, but he or she mostly feels pleasure, causing additional sexual arousal.

Obviously, this branch of intercourse can be very heated and passionate, part of why people enjoy engaging in sadomasochism. Unlike other branches of sex, sadomasochism can be dangerous since it involves pain, so it’s important to do your homework and get consent before busting out the fuzzy handcuffs from Spencer’s gifts.

Tips for everyone

Get consent from your partner. As discussed earlier, sadomasochism without consent is essentially rape. It’s important to know you have the okay from your partner, and having a conscious discussion beforehand can alleviate apprehension connected to sadomasochism and your partner’s feelings.

Some Web pages about sadomasochism, such as AskMen, suggest judging your partner’s opinion by lightly biting them or pulling his or her hair, and then asking if they like it before continuing. In this situation, it’s important to know your partner: Are you dating someone who goes with the flow between the sheets? Or, will your partner go running in the opposite direction if he or she feels slightly uncomfortable?

Create a safe word. Although pain does release endorphins during sex, you will still experience pain, and sometimes it can be too much. S&M experts recommend creating a safe word you never use during intercourse, like “muffin” or “daisy.” Sometimes participants pretend they don’t want to continue with S&M during sex, so it’s important to have a word that means, “stop” for this situation.

Ideas for the curious

If you’re curious about sadomasochism, it’s best to test the waters before you jump in with light S&M like biting, spanking, hair pulling, or pinning your partner.

Biting is an easy starter because most couples already kiss areas like the neck or thighs during sex. Don’t start by intensely biting your partner. Instead, kiss his or neck normally, and gradually start nibbling. If your partner enjoys this, you can bite harder, but remember not to break their skin!

It is most common for the buttocks to be spanked during sex, simply because it doesn’t make sense to start with another body part. Spanking releases endorphins through the body and is easiest during the doggystyle or cowgirl positions for heterosexual couples.

Hair pulling – if done lightly – might not hurt at all and releases endorphins like these other activities. Tugging your partner’s hair during oral sex can be a sign to them that you’re enjoying yourself, causing your partner to be aroused while you are pleasured.

Some couples take this a step further and pull on the female partner’s hair during sex to change her body position, creating new angles of entry and depth.

Pinning your partner down may seem extreme, but can be very pleasurable. This technique gives the top partner a sense of control, while the bottom partner completely gives him or herself away to their partner.

Ideas for the adventurous

If you have already experimented with S&M or you and your partner have discussed adventurous sadomasochism, bondage, choking, and throwing your partner around are techniques you can try out.

Bondage is the area that people most commonly think of when they hear S&M. That’s right: bondage includes whips, handcuffs, restraints, and blindfolds. Bondage takes pinning your partner down one step further with the use of material products. Restraints and handcuffs are useful if your partner wants to be dominated, and adding a blindfold creates mystery.

Using a whip on your partner is definitely a step-up in S&M world and consent is imperative. Whipping is pleasurable because it releases endorphins, just as with spanking.

Choking can be very dangerous and should be practiced with care. The reduced flow of oxygen to the brain causes a hallucinogenic state, but you must be careful to avoid asphyxiation. If you want to avoid this danger, simply holding your partner’s neck can create the illusion of control.

Throwing your partner around can be done as lightly or harshly as you and your partner are comfortable with. Picking your partner up and throwing them against walls or seating them on tables can be very erotic, creating a very enjoyable experience. Keep in mind that this can create cuts or bruises, and also that throwing your partner around can be loud if items fall or break.

Using sex to improve yourself physically

A note from Lauren and Andy: Spring is finally here, and that means more people are suddenly jogging the loop and showing some skin by the volleyball court. It’s the time of year when “love is in the air,” and people are focusing on losing weight before bathing suit season.

The good news is you can kill two birds with one stone by adding your cardio and strength training in the bedroom, and using your normal workouts to increase your performance between the sheets. Andy showcases good workouts to get in shape for sex, and Lauren explains which sexual positions also provide a good workout. Just remember, sexercise works best when implemented both in and out of the bedroom, and when combined with a healthy diet!

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It happens to the best of us. You look down at your stomach or legs during sex and realize it’s time to shed a few pounds. And then you realize you hardly have time to shower on a daily basis, let alone fit in trips to the gym three times a week. It’s a Catch-22 because you don’t have enough time for the gym, but you’re self-esteem plummets when you see yourself naked.

Brace yourself, because this next sentence may be the answer to your problem: You can indulge in sexercise – exercises that work key muscles, like biceps, abs, and gluteus maximus – while actually having sex. In fact, according to an article Dr. John Gray wrote on MarsVenusLiving.com, having intercourse for half an hour can burn 350 calories, as many calories as walking quickly for one hour.

What’s funny is that if you’re sexually active, you’ve probably been engaged in sexercise without even knowing it. Have you ever broken a sweat during sex? Have you ever felt sore after having intercourse? If so, then you’ve definitely utilized sexercise before.

Although you may engage in sexercise without realizing it, being conscious of your sexercise is a “must” if you’re trying to shed some pounds. Every sexual position is a form of sexercise, but some “sub-positions” are more beneficial as sexercise. The sexual positions that follow are some great examples of what you should be looking for in sexercise.

Missionary Position is commonly viewed as “the boring position” that requires the least effort, but if the bottom partner exerts him or herself by thrusting his or her body toward the top partner, this position can yields sexercise results.

“It depends on how enthusiastic you are about it, but missionary can be great for the core muscles,” Stacy Berman, a New York City-based certified fitness trainer says on Fitness Magazine’s Web site. “If your partner is thrusting toward you, you want to have an equal and opposite thrust back, and that requires a lot of core strength. It actually will start burning.”

As an example, let’s look at the sub-position “Let’s Get Crazy.” In this sub-position, the bottom partner lifts his or legs straight in the air, working the legs and gluteus maximus, while the top partner squats to enter, working his or her quads.

A great example of sexercise from a Missionary sub-category is called the “Wheelbarrow of Fun.” In this position, the bottom partner lays on a bed with his or her legs wrapped around the top partner, and the top partner holds the bottom partners legs against his or her thighs. This variation works both partners’ legs and back.

Doggystyle is a position that’s a work out without varying it at all. Without variation, Doggystyle works the core, thighs and gluteus maximus. If the bottom partner puts his or her arms against a wall, this position can work out those muscles as well.

If both partners exert themselves, Cowgirl can be a strenuous position that works the gluteus maximus and abs like riding a horse.

In the sub-position “Crouching Tiger, Aroused Dragon,” women can get a great thigh workout while also having her G-spot directly stimulated. In this position, the top partner squats and allows the bottom partner to enter. The bottom partner can receive a good abdominal workout by looking up at his or her partner for long periods of time during this position.

Another variation of Cowgirl, “Humpty Bumpy,” instructs the bottom partner to lay down, while the top partner straddles them with his or her legs spread in the air. When the top partner grasps the bottom partner’s kneck for support, his or her arms, legs, and abs all receive a workout, while the bottom partner will receive a leg workout by supporting his or her top partner.

For those who want to get the ‘bang for their buck’ with sexercise, there are more challenging sexual positions that will provide a more strenuous workout.

A standing position where one partner stands and the other wraps his or her body around the standing partner can be a great workout, working the core, arms, legs, and gluteus maximus for both partners.

The bridge position is a very difficult sexual position that provides a great work out, especially for the bottom partner who contorts his or her body into a bridge during intercourse. This position works the bottom partner’s gluteus maximus inner thighs, biceps, triceps, quads and calves. While the bottom partner is in a bridge, the top partner squats on the ground for entry, working his or her legs.

“This is a highly advanced position. She needs to stabilize herself so as he’s thrusting in and out, she doesn’t crash,” says Patti Britton, author of The Art of Sex Coaching and immediate past president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, on FitnessMagazine.com.

The arch position is a modified version of the bridge, allowing for more comfort during intercourse. Instead of position his or her body in a bridge, the bottom partner arches his or her body upwards toward the top partner.

Although the arch position is a modified version of the bridge, it is safer because the back and neck are both supported, and it surprisingly provides a more strenuous work out.

One last challenging position is a lunge, and participants will know just from the name how their body’s should be positioned. The bottom partner receives little workout, while the top partner lunges one leg forward and the other backward, working his or her quads, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus.

Change up sexual positions for new experiences

Variation, variation, variation. The key to staying satisfied with the four basic sexual positions is varying couples’ lovemaking style.

Many heterosexual couples frequently complain about being bored in the bedroom. Yet just by varying their favorite sexual positions, many are broadening their horizons.

All of the examples in this article were found in “Ride ‘Em Cowgirl,” written by Sadie Allison, a licensed doctor of sexuality and the CEO of an adult toy company.

The missionary position – or “boy-on-top” – is the most traditional sexual position, causing some couples to feel bored when repeatedly utilizing it. The good news is missionary doesn’t have to be boring, and easy adjustments can be made.

If you try “the nutcracker,” the “bottom partner” simply adjusts his or her knees to lean against his or her partner’s back or shoulders.

If you try the “kneel ‘n’ squeel,” the “top partner” kneels on the floor, while the bottom partner lays down with his or her legs behind his or her partner’s shoulders. Both of these positions create a new angle of entry, creating a different form of pleasure for both partners.

If you want to vary height, some good ideas are to lean on edges of beds, tables and so on. In “standing ovation,” the top partner stands while the bottom partner sits on an elevated surface, and “orgasm’s edge” instructs the bottom partner to sit on a high surface, while the top partner leans against him or her or kneels on the floor. These positions are beneficial because they provide easy access to the female’s g-spot, allowing for high-intensity orgasms.

For couples with an aggressive feminine partner, girl-on-top is a popular position, but it can become boring if done the same with each experience, but easy adjustments can be made to create new and thrilling sexual experiences.

A popular adjustment in the girl-on-top position is “reverse cowgirl,” where the top partner turns around to face his or her partner’s feet instead of his or her face. This position is popular because the penis hits the opposite vaginal wall than in most positions. Women aren’t accustomed to this sensation, so it is very stimulating and desirable.

Another easy option is for the top partner to lie on his or her partner during the girl-on-top subcategory “cover girl.” This allows partners to kiss one another and feel close during intercourse.

In “ultimate cowgirl,” couples adjust height, with the bottom partner sitting in a chair, and the top partner sitting on top. This position allows for deep penetration and physical closeness between partners.

Although some consider “doggy style” unromantic and kinky, it is the position of choice for those who love multi-stimulation and visual stimulation. “Doggy style” allows partners to easily grasp – look at breasts, buttocks, testicles and the clitoris while indulging in deep-penetration intercourse.

For “doggy style” frequenters, it’s important to vary your style, or you’ll get bored, like with other positions. The simplest way to vary “doggy style” is for the bottom partner to adjust his or her back arch, and for both partners to adjust knee angles.

If a couple decides to try “bottoms up,” the bottom partner positions his or herself normally for doggystyle, but then arches his or her back, with his or her bottom in the air.

With the “three-legged fox” position, the goal is for the bottom partner to look like an attentive fox. The top partner kneels upright, while the bottom partner kneels on his or her hands and knees, with his or her back arched and knees close together.

Both “bottoms up” and the “three-legged fox” allow for new angles of entry in “doggy style,” creating different forms of stimulation and body dexterity.

The fourth basic sexual position is called spooning. Although spooning is commonly forgotten, it is debatably the most romantic position, since it allows for couples to have intercourse while cuddling, or “spooning.” If you’ve never tried this position, give it a shot.

With “sporking,” the top partner picks up the bottom partner’s thigh with his or her arm. This makes penetration easier during spooning because the vaginal or anal opening is wider.

Another option in spooning is called the “dessert spoon,” which instructs both partners to alternate their leg positions, allowing them to feel the “perfect fit.”

One more spooning option is called the “heaping spoon.” Both partners bend their knees up, allowing for a penis – or strap-on – to hit the “bottom partner’s” g-spot, resulting in the famous g-spot orgasm in females.

I read “Ride ‘Em Cowgirl” in two hours and found it very comprehensive and reader-friendly. There are sections specifically for “cowgirls” or “cowboys,” and caricatures are included of position variations. If you enjoyed this article, I highly encourage you to purchase the book.

If you’re in a homosexual relationship, however, this isn’t the best book for you, as Allison has structured it for heterosexual couples. If you’d like suggestions specifically for homosexual couples, please e-mail me at gurry2@tcnj.edu with requests for advice, popular books or with suggestions and quotes for an article. I’d love to better represent the GLBTQ community.

Roleplaying for beginners: Easing into something new

Dressing up can add flair to your love life. (Tim Lee).

The first time I ever heard of role-playing, I was watching a show on MTV called “Undressed.” One of the characters loved his partner to dress in fuzzy animal costumes — particularly squirrels — while doing the dirty.

“There are issues that couples have to understand before entering into (roleplaying),” psychologist Ephraim Gochangco said in an article on abs-cbnnews.com. “Both women and men have great hang-ups about veering away from the ‘strictly missionary’ life.”

Many people have sexual fantasies, and roleplaying gives you the chance to make your fantasies a reality while spicing up your sex life.

Trying something new in the bedroom can be intimidating, and fear is definitely enhanced with roleplaying because it’s natural to be worried about your performance.

It’s best to indulge in roleplaying when in an open and trusting monogamous relationship. I cannot stress enough how important communication is in romantic and sexual relationships. Talking openly about sex with your partner is definitely beneficial because then you won’t feel weird bringing up new bedroom ideas, like roleplaying.

Don’t dive in before you get your feet wet. Often times, one partner is very enthusiastic about the prospect of roleplaying, while the other is hesitant. In this situation, it’s smartest to ease into roleplaying with lingerie or dialogue without costumes.

Start including corresponding props, visual aids and music. Role-playing doesn’t just have to be about you and your partner wearing cheesy costumes. You and your significant other can enhance your role-playing experience by adding props, visual aids and music.

If you decide to act out a professor to student fantasy, you can cover your desk with papers and push them off in an act of passion. Include objects like a map or globe, strewn about the room to make the situation seem realistic.

For story ideas, e-mail Lauren at gurry2@tcnj.edu.

Prepare yourself when selecting roommates

As freshmen, most of us were able to choose who our roommates were. Sometimes, this system turns out well and sometimes it’s disastrous. We think it is good news that we get to choose our roommates after freshman year, but sometimes it’s not so good at all.

You might have numerous people fighting to have you pull them into New Residence Hall next year, or you can live with your best friend and realize you are incompatible roommates.

When choosing your roommate for next year, it is helpful to take a step back and consider what kind of person you can relate to, and the following factors should be considered.

Living habits – It might not bother you now that your friend down the hall goes for a 6 a.m. run daily, but it probably will bother you when he or she becomes your roommate, and you pulled an all-nighter the night before.

“Talk to your roommate about your living styles,” said Kyle Williams, the residence director of Allen, Brewster, Eickhoff, Ely and Norsworthy halls. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions like how do you study or what time do you go to bed.”

Personality – Many times, personality overlaps with living habits, but as far as personality goes, you’ll be considering factors like party habits, behavior under stress, music preferences and tolerance of company.

If your future roommate is very social, ask yourself how often you have people in your room right now. Maybe you prefer visiting a social place to living in one, which will make it difficult to live with a very social friend.

“Are they more of a private person, versus someone who is more social?” Williams asked. “Especially as many Upper Class Experience (UCE) rooms exist in a townhouse or apartment as well as some Second Year Experience (SYE) rooms being in suite style rooms or independent rooms versus community bathroom style.”

Consider other valuable factors like trust, respect, comfort and being considerate.

Say you don’t think your roommate respects you as a person and your wallet is missing. You’ll probably assume your roommate had something to do with it, leading to the bigger issue of trust.

It’s also important that you and your roommate be considerate of each other’s space, belongings and living habits, and also that you feel comfortable spending a lot of time with them.

Rooming with your best friend isn’t always the best idea. As the housing lottery approaches, you may decide you want to live with the new best friend you’ve made at the College. Unless you have a deep understanding about personality and living habits, this probably isn’t a good idea.

Living with your friend can also tear your friendship apart, sophomore English major Emily Dusedau said. She said she has observed many friends having falling-outs this year because they lived together with clashing habits.

“Never room with your best friend, especially if you have different lifestyles or expectations regarding guests, study versus sleep time, cleaning habits, etc.,” Tina Tormey, the area director of the Sophomore Year Experience (SYE), said. “It’s an awkward and frustrating experience when you can’t vent to the person you are closest to because (he or she is) the same person that you need to complain about.”

Gain first-hand experience in resolving fights in a relationship

SexIn a long-term relationship, it’s natural to experience rough patches and periods when you are having large-scale arguments. I have been in three long-term relationships and I have a tendency to bring up past events while trying to “win” the argument.

Anyone reading can identify that those behaviors probably make the argument worse, a lesson I didn’t identify until my current relationship. For disgruntled couples, I hope the tips I’ve developed through research and experience help with your relationships.

Encourage open and honest communication in your relationship. My parents have told me my whole life that it is impossible for a relationship to work without communicating fully with your partner.

An anecdote my dad tells is where one of his friends and his girlfriend decided they didn’t want to have kids. Once married, the wife decided she wanted to have kids after all. This caused chaos in their relationship because my dad’s friend felt tricked. In cases like this, it’s better to be honest with your partner immediately then for the truth to come out later.

The Positive Conflicts Web site, positiveconflicts.com, details common dirty tricks to avoid in arguments like name-calling, yelling and personal attacks. Something I used to do is bring up past arguments and use them as evidence for my point. I would do this to win the argument, but your aim should not be to win. Instead, it should be to reach an agreement with your partner.

One positive trick is to put yourself in your partner’s shoes, which can be difficult. Ask your partner why they feel the way they do and what else is bothering them. Often times, underlying issues like stress can cause your partner to overreact to a seemingly trivial matter.

I’ve learned that sometimes arguing is healthy in a relationship because you put all of your feelings on the table. If you need to cool down, it’s okay to leave the argument, but you should agree to return to it later. You should also be willing to move past your anger if you love your partner.

I welcome any e-mails with questions about resolving fights in relationships. I will respond promptly with suggestions.

For story ideas, e-mail Lauren at gurry2@tcnj.edu.

Bring food into the bedroom

SexChocolate and oysters are popular aphrodisiacs — foods that release endorphins and make you want to hightail it to the bedroom with your partner.

It’s definitely romantic to surprise your significant other with some chocolate cupcakes or a home-cooked meal, but there is definitely a spicier way to make use of aphrodisiacs, and that’s by bringing them into the bedroom with you.

For some, the thought of bringing their sex life into a kinkier realm produces anxiety, but the following tips should help your experience with food be as delightful – and delicious – as possible.

Talk about your preferences beforehand. If you start spraying whipped cream on your sweetheart and he or she looks appalled, that’s the cue that you should have talked this fantasy through. Trying new things in the bedroom is exciting, but make sure to get consent before turning your love into a tasty dessert. Your partner may have a dessert idea you haven’t thought of, so talking about the topic will definitely help.

Make necessary preparations inside the house. Have your food items prepared beforehand. It will ruin the moment to trek into the kitchen, so having everything prepared and near you will make things easier.

Keep in mind that bringing food into the bedroom is likely to produce a mess. It will help to use old bed sheets or put a towel over your sheets before making use of your chosen treats.

You should also make sure you can shower immediately after. Some common aphrodisiacs are sticky, and you’ll want to wash right away.

Determine ahead of time which foods you want to use. Although some common aphrodisiacs include caviar and asparagus, according to the “Good Sex Bible” by Judy Bastyra, it is unlikely your lover will be thrilled about licking those items off of your body. Instead, sweet, dessert-type foods work for this sort of endeavor. Chocolate syrup and whipped cream are ever-popular options, but you and your partner can consider other foods like honey, fruit, ice cream and popsicles.

Some people do not enjoy how sticky sweets, like chocolate syrup and honey, feel after they have started drying on skin, so it is important to use these items in smaller portions.

Have a little fun with your treats. You and your lover will enjoy this experience more if you put more creativity into it. For example, you can make patterns on your partner’s and have them guess what you’re trying to draw. Another option is licking off whipped cream and chocolate in patterns to have them guess the same thing.

You can also use temperature to your advantage. If you’re using a popsicle stick, you can lightly trace the curves of your partner’s body until they’re begging for warmth.

Another way to have fun with food is to blindfold your partner and have them guess what you’re feeding them. You can get tricky by covering fruit with honey, chocolate or whipped cream or making vanilla ice cream into a sundae. You can also throw them a curve ball by feeding them a kiss instead of candy.

Avoid bodily openings when experimenting with food. The sugars and dyes in many foods can irritate sensitive areas, causing infections and rashes.

Although it may be tempting to use whipped cream in your partner’s most sensitive areas, your best bet is to stay away. It is best to use food for foreplay only, and if you must use a little something extra beneath the belt, invest in some specially made flavored creams or lubricants.

Many companies sell flavored massage creams and bodily lubricants for this sole purpose. It is safer to use these manufactured treats because the makers intentionally use ingredients that won’t irritate or cause infection.

Many of these products have warming and cooling properties, and you and your partner can choose which consistency is best for you, too. The products are long-lasting, and you can also take them with you.

For story ideas, e-mail Lauren at gurry2@tcnj.edu.

Learn strategies to prevent sexual assault on campus

talkaboutsexCollege campuses, while promoting a friendly atmosphere, are also hotspots for sexual assault.

According to The Office of Anti-Violence Initiatives (OAVI), one in five women and one in 10 men are the victims of violence each year at the College, and 90 percent of the time the victim and the perpetrator know each other.

This means there’s a chance one of those victims could be you and it is vital to protect yourself. Here are tips that will help protect you and your friends from experiencing sexual assault.

Look out for your friends and make sure someone is looking out for you. It’s important to travel with a buddy or group on campus – especially at night. At parties, it’s important to travel with a group, stay together and leave together. If possible, make sure one of your friends is sober and can look out for your clique.

According to Jackie Deitch-Stackhouse, the coordinator of OAVI, friends don’t think anything of asking if someone is okay to drive, so they should take those same two minutes to ask if their friends are sober enough to leave with someone else.

Get a police escort if you feel unsafe on campus. “For all intents and purposes, you’re safe walking through campus,” Deitch-Stackhouse said, but it’s natural to feel unsafe if you’re walking alone at 2 a.m. In this situation, it is best to call Campus Police because they will escort you back to your dorm or car. In case of an assault, keep Campus Police’s phone number on speed dial in your phone.

Take a self-defense course. Rape Aggression Defense Training is offered by Officer Matthew Mastrosimone at the College, and the course teaches participants how to prevent an assault through hands-on defense methods. If you feel uncomfortable going alone, get a group of friends to go, or even ask your Community Advisor to turn the training into a program.

If you are a victim, there are several on-campus resources available for you, including OAVI, Health Services, which offers emergency contraception, and Campus Police who work with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Sex Crimes unit immediately after the incident has occurred. Assault is a violation of the student code of conduct, and assailants will likely face suspension or expulsion.

For story ideas, e-mail Lauren at gurry2@tcnj.edu.

Making Valentine’s Day a success on a college budget

Watching a movie in your significant other?s room can be a special, non-expensive Valentine?s treat. (Tim Lee).
Watching a movie in your significant other?s room can be a special, non-expensive Valentine?s treat. (Tim Lee).

Valentine’s Day can be an expensive holiday. According to The History Channel’s Web site, Americans spend a total of $30 million on Valentine’s Day each year. This daunting fact, along with your special someone’s expectations, makes Valentine’s Day an especially difficult holiday to plan for college sweethearts.

The good news is most love birds are less concerned about what his or her significant other buys than he or she is about what is planned and how much thought was put into it. That means with a little bit of thought you can make Valentine’s Day memorable without breaking the bank.

If you need help jump-starting your brain into the planning process, here are some suggestions that may help you make your lover’s Valentine’s Day special.

Get your other half his or her favorite flowers or candy. Just because roses and chocolate are the classic Valentine’s Day presents, that doesn’t mean it’s what your sweetheart wants. Does your lady like tulips? Does your man devour Twizzlers? Treat your significant other to his or her favorite treats instead.

Have balloons, candy or flowers delivered to where he or she will be during the day. Nothing will make your partner laugh quite as giddily as being surprised in public. If your boyfriend is at work or your girlfriend is in a meeting, make sure you have a small gift delivered to where he or she will be.

Mail him or her a love letter. Everyone loves getting mail, and it’s rare that people get cards or letters delivered to their dorms. Even if you see your significant other every day, it doesn’t mean he or she won’t tear up while reading a love letter you wrote by hand. It’s something your partner will treasure for years to come — guaranteed.

Fill a decorative basket with your partner’s favorite things. This can include candy, books, magazines, small knick-knacks or products he or she frequently uses. Although the items seem small, your sweetheart will know you pay attention to his or her preferences and will be thrilled to be presented with a package of things he or she adores.

Give your partner love coupons. These are extremely easy to make on the computer, and you can even have them printed and laminated in the library. Does your girlfriend hate driving? Does your boyfriend hate a certain class? You can make love coupons for all sorts of things, including a free chauffer, massage or meal of his or her choice, to be used at the time of your lover’s choosing.

Create a love blog and send them a link to it via Facebook on Valentine’s Day. In the blog you can recall how the two of you met, what your first date was like, your favorite memories and so on. You can also include pictures and lyrics from your favorite songs. This is best when well-prepared. Your lover won’t be impressed by a blog with two entries, so don’t procrastinate!

Make an iPod playlist. Most couples hear certain songs and think of each other. Create an entire playlist with these songs and surprise your sweetheart with it. If you’re going out on Valentine’s Day, play it in the car. If you’re spending the night in, play it during dinner or when you make your way to the bedroom.

Make a list of why you love your significant other and present it in a special way. You can make your own card and write all the reasons you love your partner inside, or you can be more secretive. Leave a different thought on sticky-notes in his or her’s room, notebooks or drawers and your lover will be surprised at every turn. Another option is using mirror markers to write romantic messages on your partner’s car windshield or bathroom mirror.

Spend an evening in together. College is hectic, so it might be nice to spend a night in with the one you love. You can make his or her favorite meal for dinner, and you can have a movie marathon. You can either switch off between both of your favorite movies, or have a romantic movie marathon by watching movies like “Casablanca” and “The Notebook.” The History Channel has a list of romantic movies on the Valentine’s Day section of its Web site.

Incorporate romantic sex ideas into your evening. After a romantic evening with your partner, it’s equally as important to make sure the sex is special. Try leaving rose petals on the bed or lighting candles to set the mood. Give your partner a massage and be sure to use the tricks he or she likes best. Pay special attention to your partner, and don’t be in a rush … After all, Valentine’s Day is about the love you have for one another.

For story ideas or advice, e-mail Lauren at gurry2@tcnj.edu.

Strategies to overcome breakups while at College

SexBreakups are tough. Everyone goes through them, and we all know how painful it is when it happens. No matter how calm you can be, there is still a definite process everyone goes through after a breakup. Everyone handles the situation differently, but there are some general rules.

Don’t sit alone in your room. Everyone faces a wallowing period of several days, but after that, it’s not healthy to sit in your room crying and eating chocolate all day. Most people have one friend who will turn the lights on, force you to shower and bring you out. Even though you don’t want to move, it’s for your own good to be active.

Don’t try to be best friends with your ex. When you break up, it dramatically changes the face of a relationship, and by acting normal, it only makes things more complicated. If you continue talking to them on a daily basis, you will be sending and receiving mixed messages.

Be civil when you see them. If you and your ex both attend the College, there’s a high chance you’ll run into them in your dormitory, across campus and at off-campus parties. You’ll both feel awkward saying “hi” in passing and having a “normal” conversation, but you’ll probably feel even more awkward if you ignore one another.

Hang out with your friends. More than anything, friends are what will get you through a breakup. They are the people who will let you cry on their shoulder and vent in anger. Your friends will understand how you feel, and it’s important to go out with them – even if it’s just to Eickhoff Hall.

Don’t think random hookups will make you feel better. In college, a common mistake is to get wasted and hook up with people after a breakup. Often times this will only make you feel worse. Think about it. Alcohol is a natural depressant, so your negative feelings may become heightened, and you’ll be physically engaged with someone who isn’t your ex.

Don’t jump into a new relationship. Many people are serial monogamists and feel uncomfortable when they’re not in a relationship, but it’s not healthy to jump from one relationship to the next. Your wounds won’t be healed from your previous relationship, and you may probably still have feelings for your ex.

Don’t change who you are. Just because you and your ex couldn’t work things out, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Regardless of how you feel after a break-up, realize that it’s not the end of the world. Your life will continue and sooner or later you will find someone else who makes you happy.