Eighty degrees in late February, strolling around a University of California campus on a Friday afternoon. Sometimes this job is a bit much.
Yet, there was research to be done.
How would a random group of UC Irvine male students feel about the suspending of a "male sexuality" course on their sister campus in Berkeley, following allegations that the student instructor had sex onstage at a gay strip club, held an orgy at his home and that some students played a game in which they photographed their genitalia and then tried to match the Polaroids with their classmates.
Or, as I politely phrased it to the UCI students, why doesn't UCI have a class like that? And if it did, would they sign up?
The guys took the question a lot more seriously than I intended it.
The consensus seemed to be that there's Berkeley and then there's Irvine. Same family, not much in common.
"I just have better things to do with my time," said 25-year-old Joel Wilcox. "I'm here to get an education.... There's plenty of exploring of sexuality around campus without making it part of the curriculum," Wilcox suggested.
"The premise is fascinating, but the field trips?" asked wise-cracking Jeff Cashin. "That's why I'm glad all the liberals went to Berkeley." That said, Cashin, 19, added that he isn't repulsed by the idea of the class; it's just not one he'd sign up for.
Two medical school hopefuls said the Berkeley class, for which students get two credits, speaks well for the school. However, both said they're too busy pursuing their majors to give much thought to whether they'd enroll if UCI offered it.
"I wouldn't attend the class; it's just not my personal interest," said Sameer Menda, 23. But he was quick to add that the open-mindedness the class symbolizes is good for society. "I'd like to think these kids [on the UCI campus] aren't a direct reflection of Orange County," he said. "I hope the kids aren't that conservative."
Bio-Chem Major Would 'Feel Weird' in Class
His buddy, Sumeet Kadakia, echoed that. He's a biology-chemistry major, doesn't have a whole lot of elective-class choices and couldn't squeeze in a class like male sexuality. Plus, he said, "I'd feel weird."
Tell me about it, dude. When I was in college, I'd have signed up for astrophysics before enrolling in male sexuality. Not that it was in the picture--Nebraska U. in the early '70s wasn't ready for such things, although degrees were offered in animal husbandry.
Biology major Amine Chahbouni said he doesn't have time for a male sexuality course but refused to condemn it.
"It would be interesting to study sexual behavior, to see what other people think about it, and the stereotypes about men, especially from radical feminists," he said.
Would such a class fly at UCI? "Berkeley is liberal; we're very conservative," he said. "You've got to study hard to keep from falling behind. Sociologically, a class like that would make students more aware of what's going on around them. Life is not just about books and studying, but unfortunately, the environment around here forces you to do that."
This got me thinking that UCI does have a different breed of student. I would have expected any group of 10 guys to ask where the line formed for such a class.
OK, so Irvine isn't Berkeley. We all know that.
Still, it was heartening to conclude my research with 20-year-old psychology major Dante Mapanao. He reminded me much more of the guys from my dormitory floor. He guffawed when hearing about the Berkeley class but, under pressure, conceded that a class like that "is not what we really came here for."
I asked about his class schedule. "I have a full load," he said. Then, after pausing for a second, he added with a big laugh, "But I'm sure I could fit it in somewhere. I'd figure out a way to do it."
Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Readers may reach Parsons by calling (714) 966-7821 or by writing to him at The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or by e-mail to email@example.com.