Design by Leyla Dumke; Illustrations by Abby Schreck

Here marks the closing chapter of a fall semester that, to many University of Michigan students, was characterized by a series of Tinder hook-ups, bouts of religious guilt, the occasional trip to University Health Services and a whole lot of “doing it.” We here at The Statement know this because we asked, just as we have done for the past 10 years. 

Indeed, on this day in 2012, The Michigan Daily debuted its first Sex Issue, detailing “gay cruising” on Craigslist and consummates dressed as crayons. Much has been done in the past decade, and we have had the pleasure of documenting it all — the good, the bad and the dirty.

So alas, welcome to the 2022 Sex Edition ­­— or as some may call it, the “heated fellowship” edition. 

In November, the Statement and Web team distributed a survey to all 51,225 University of Michigan students on the Ann Arbor campus, both undergraduate and graduate. Of those, we received 4,915 respondents — a sample your STATS 250 professor would approve of.

Demographic results indicate that 18% of the respondents were freshmen, 19% sophomores, 19% juniors, 20% seniors and 24% graduate students. 59% of respondents identify as being a woman, 36% as men, 3% as non-binary, 1% as gender-queer and 1% as other. The distribution of respondents’ sexual orientation was recorded as 63% heterosexual, 18% bisexual, 7% lesbian/gay, 5% queer, 3% asexual, 2% pansexual and 2% other. 

It is important to note that statistics resulting from this survey may be skewed, as many individuals may have withheld information detailed in the questionnaire, refrained from answering certain questions and/or may have answered questions dishonestly. We also recognize the presence of survey bias in those who chose to participate, as some respondents are perhaps more open to discussing sex-related topics or are more prone to checking The Michigan Daily emails through which the survey was distributed.  

Additionally, we are cognizant of, and made appropriate adjustments to, an omission error made in a demographic question inquiring about the respondent’s college. Out of the options offered, our survey failed to include a select few colleges, namely SMTD and STAMPS. As a result, there may be partial error in results utilizing college as a variable, as such responses were subject to re-categorization after the survey’s closure.

We also would like to acknowledge the presence of heteronormative phrasing present within select questions and answer choices. In particular, we recognize that the discussion of contraception and safe-sex practices may be non-representative of certain sexual orientations, particularly those who partake in non-heterosexual sex and do not engage with standard forms of contraception. We apologize for any harm we may have caused with this discrepancy and understand that this lapse may have caused a potential skew in data. 


To be frank, it wouldn’t be a sex survey without a statistically significant amount of sex. The results are in: 62% of the campus population has had sex this semester, a number that is seven percentage points shy of an innuendo (maybe next year!). But it is also a number that, when stripped down, reveals broader truths surrounding students’ views, motivations, preferences and background of all things sex. So, to begin, let’s go back to basics: sex-ed.

Sex Education and Safe Sex Practices

A majority of student respondents (30%) first learned about sex through the internet/social media, followed by through friends at 24%. Hence, our education system still appears to be lacking in terms of sufficient sex-ed, as only 17% of respondents first learned about sex from school. And regardless of when and how respondents first learned about sex, 40% perceive their sex education as a largely negative experience that was both uninformative and unhelpful. 

When asked about how sex education could be improved, many write-in responses indicated the need for outlined steps to achieve female pleasure, how to engage in queer sex, clear definitions of consent, ways to detect sexual coercion and a comprehensive list of the best safe-sex practices. 

Perhaps to make up for such a lack of scholastic instruction, some University students have expanded their sexual skillset through ‘experiential learning’ outside of the classroom. Specifically, the survey finds that graduate students studying within the School of Social Work are having the most sex this semester, often seven or more times a week. And those within the College of Engineering are presumptively doing too much homework and the least amount of dirty-work: 45% report that they have not had sex this semester, the lowest rate of sex observed across all of the colleges represented in the survey.

Whether “doing it” a little or a lot, the majority of students use condoms (‘male condoms’ or ‘female condoms’) to ensure safe-sex. Additionally, 38% of students have used or are currently using some form of contraceptive, be it the birth control pill, IUD, implant, etc. Again, it is important to note that the survey questions surrounding contraception aligned mostly with heterosexual sex and consequentially did not collect data on PrEP users, etc.

But for the 10% of students who rely on withdrawal and the 2% who do not use any form of safe sex practice, we here at the Statement would like to cordially invite you to explore University provided resources to make certain that you and your partner(s) are having the safest of sex. And for the select sample of graduate students who indicated they are trying for a baby, we wish you luck in conceiving the next generation of Daily readers!

But ensuring safe sex goes beyond what you might tinker with in your twin XL bed in Mary Markley residence hall. In the past year, 81% of students have not utilized University medical resources to check in on their sexual health, whether it be STI testing, OB/GYN appointments, etc. Additionally, 17% of students report that they have never asked their sexual partners about their sexual history. So next time you ‘get down,’ perhaps talk with your partner about their sexual past and schedule a STI test through UHS.

Online Dating

The majority of students, 58%, have floated onto dating apps, perhaps a residual side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on in-person meet-cutes. While men and women reportedly use dating apps primarily for “casual browsing,” men are 15% more likely than women to use dating apps for “hooking up.” What does this term mean exactly? Students don’t seem to agree: 23% of students define “hooking up” as being oral sex, 23% as genital contact and 24% as penetrative sex. And interestingly, asexual, pansexual and queer respondents attribute “curiosity” for their dating app usage to a greater degree than heterosexual, lesbian and gay respondents. 


Most students report that they have sex “for pleasure.” And perhaps strikingly, 40% of students report that they have only had 1-2 sexual partners while in college, of which 63% categorize as being in an exclusive relationship (partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other).  

But in any raw data set there are outliers, and the College of Engineering is ours. Despite being the second most represented college in our survey and second most enrolled college at the University — trumped only by the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts — students majoring within the College of Engineering are most likely to have had zero sexual partners in college. And while it may be safe to conclude that there is minimal sexual activity on North Campus, that may soon change with the new computer science and information building that is set to be completed by 2025. 

This is because the School of Information houses the highest percentage of students who have had 10 or more sexual partners in college, at 15.4%. 

Whether enjoying committed relationships, living on Central Campus or majoring in Computer Engineering, 60% of respondents report that they have had mostly positive sexual experiences. What those experiences were, that’s a secret we will never tell. Instead, we asked respondents to share their favorite euphemisms for sex, some responses ranging from the innocent “hanky panky” or “boinking” to the more complex “forbidden tango” or “pip pip the didly do.”

And after post-coitally “tangling legs,” many prefer to cuddle, sleep or do the Wordle.

But sex is not always a fun-loving round of “knocking boots.” Because for the other 40% of respondents who have expressed having mostly negative sexual experiences, there is much to be learned. 

Consent and Satisfaction

Respondents who have experienced mostly negative sexual experiences provided their reasoning via free response, the most common responses involving sexual assault trauma, coercion, toxic hook-up culture, intoxication, faking satisfaction and poor communication of consent and expectations. The data supports such reasoning, as 37% of respondents believe that a verbal “yes” is not the only way to consent to sexual activity and 26% believe affirmative consent does not have to be granted while sober. There appears to be a clear disconnect between what consent is and in what context it can be granted. 

And when it comes to stating sexual preferences, 32% of students are only somewhat comfortable giving directions to their partner; 27% are comfortable only if they have an established relationship with their partner. Miscommunication in tandem with a socially-constructed prioritization for the heterosexual man’s sexual satisfaction are potential explanatory variables for the lack of communication occurring in intimate situations across campus. This is furthered by the fact that 50% of students report they occasionally fake sexual satisfaction, 8% faking satisfaction often. Enter the orgasm gap. 60% of men report never having to fake an orgasm, a statistic that is 28% and 12% higher than what women and gender-queer individuals report, respectively.

Impact of Religion on Sexuality 

The 2021 sex survey analysis concluded with a suggestion “that future surveyors include a demographic question regarding participants’ relationships with faith and religion.” You asked, and we delivered. This year’s survey concluded with a free response space, collecting such religiously-founded demographic data that, in turn, exposed striking differences in education and openness about sex. 

Muslim, Hindu and Orthodox respondents were least likely to be open to discussing sexual topics with family members. In contrast, Mormon students are the most open to talking with family members on said topics.

Jewish and Mormon students were most likely to agree that their sex education was largely positive, informative and helpful. Such feelings were disproportionately felt by other faiths, as evidenced by write-in responses. 

When asked to detail how religion has impacted the respondents’ sexuality and sexual preferences, common responses included: religious trauma surrounding pre-marital sex and non-heterosexual relationships, harmful expectations for purity and feelings of shame or sinfulness regarding masturbation. While feelings of guilt were relevant even for those who reported they are no longer practicing religion or have undergone a religious conversion, Roman Catholic and Muslim students were the most frequent respondents that expressed feelings of religious guilt. 

Going Forward

In future years, we suggest that surveyors continue to restructure survey questions to be inclusive of all sexual identities. This is not only important to foster feelings of inclusion, but it will allow for a more accurate representation of students’ sexual habits, preferences and well-being.

Additionally, we suggest that surveyors include more representative demographic data that considers geographic location. We presume that there are differences between U-M students who commute to campus versus those who live on North Campus versus those who live on Central Campus. Such data points will allow for further insight into campus culture, campus geography and the role of sex within those. And more candidly, it will allow North Campus to defend or disprove its sexual reputation (or lack thereof) that has been outlined in previous years’ surveys — this year included.  

And finally, we suggest that surveyors take inspiration from past Sex Issues by including a small sample of questions that provide added elements of humor amongst the cold, hard data. Perhaps this may include questions surrounding what songs are on students’ sex playlists, average rice purity scores, favorite pre-coital activity or best places to have sex on campus. 

Until next year, keep “making pancakes.”

Statement Deputy Editor Julia Verklan Maloney can be reached at