Returning to Oxford in a pandemic led to many questions we never thought we’d have to ask. How to have sex in Lockdown Michaelmas wasn’t just a worry for students; even the House of Lords got involved.

It was all much simpler before. Don’t shit where you eat. You can’t have all three of: same subject, same college, same year (even two is pushing it).  Pre-pandemic, this was great advice if you wanted to keep your sex life as drama-free as possible in Oxford. But is it still true? 

As with many things, coronavirus has changed everything. Anyone wanting to get any action in Oxford this Michaelmas faced a tough choice– sleep with someone in your household or break the law.

The potential negative consequences of the second option are obvious –getting or possibly spreading Covid, being deaned for having people in your room, anger from other household members, etc.  Add social distancing and subtract clubbing, crewdates and other ways of meeting people, and finding someone outside of college is harder anyway. 

I’ve always found ‘don’t shit where you eat’ to be excellent advice, and even the most law-abiding student still has options to meet people in Oxford. But if you want to actually get some within the law, your options are more limited. 

Getting action a bit closer to home might be government-approved, but is it a good idea? There’s a reason the cliches exist; as great as in-college (now in-household!) sex can be, it can also very quickly get very awkward, and not just for you. 

This isn’t to say it can’t work. We have to take fun where we can get it in these incredibly depressing times, so if you can sleep with someone you live with without traumatising the rest of your friends or ruining your friendship, go for it, safe in the knowledge that Boris Johnson approves. 

But… 

If you enjoy casual sex and dislike commitment the person 2 doors along is perhaps not the best choice – the intensity of only seeing your household isn’t the best atmosphere for one-night stands.  Even if  your in-household shag leads somewhere good for the two of you, the people you live with might not share your delight at your budding romance. Especially if you don’t contain the display of affection to your own rooms. 

If it doesn’t work out, it’s even worse. Last year a poorly chosen in-college shag could lead to awkwardness in the library and a creeping suspicion that literally everybody knew about it. Now they’re one of the five people you’re legally mandated to spend all your time with. 

So is the best option to have accepted for Michaelmas and face in Hilary weeks of horny loneliness? Not necessarily, but be careful. Depending on the option you choose, self-isolation, a financial penalty or unavoidable awkwardness could await.

Amy Sankey

Amy is one of the Senior Opinion Editors and a third year chemist at LMH. She also 'perturbs her academic schedule' (direct quote from personal tutor) as president of LMHBC.