Community Bonding: Rebuilding Duke University and Durham, North Carolina to Promote Sexual Autonomy

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My central question asks how universities can engage with local communities to work towards increased sexual safety on campuses. Specifically, I first argue that universities can improve sexual safety on campuses by incorporating ideas about consent and sexuality from alternative sexual communities into safety initiatives. I then argue that universities can further improve sexual safety on campuses through engagement with off-campus business that are central to student life. Student activists and university administrators must reach outside the university to engage with local communities and unite against all forms of sexual misconduct.

I cast a wide net in Chapter One to look at the various notions of safety, consent, and gender in contemporary BDSM (bondage, discipline (or domination), sadism (or submission), and masochism) communities in hopes of finding new ways to restructure modes of though around sexual assault and harassment prevention. I find that the normative response from Duke University (and their peer institutions) against sexual assault and harassment prevention to add more policy and review boards is not working. Chapter two brings readers back to the relationship between Duke and Durham to evaluate how restructuring sex education and community engagement can form a better response against sexual misconduct and improve sexual justice at its core.

My research led me to realize how important sexual autonomy is to community health. As it currently stands in the United States, policies, laws and ideologies around appropriate sexual conduct damage sexual autonomy. Our autonomy forms how we interact with our outside community, not just intimately but socially. Therefore, if Duke University wants to strengthen sexual justice on campus, they need to first invest in sex education to re-build students’ sexual autonomy.





Sara, Stevens (2019). Community Bonding: Rebuilding Duke University and Durham, North Carolina to Promote Sexual Autonomy. Capstone project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.