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For week ended February 13, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

BYU Students Start Make-Out Website
Salt Lake Tribune 11Feb00 B4
BY Brooke Adams: Salt Lake Tribune

PROVO, UTAH -- Seven BYU students and one UVSC student launched a website dedicated to "Non-committal Make Out" January 29th. Started on a lark, the site, found at: attempts to connect people who just want the "glorifying experience" of necking without being in a relationship. However, BYU officials are looking into whether or not the site violates the school's honor code and Provo police are wondering if it is legal.

The site asks visitors to register by filling out a form asking for a physical description and kissing history. It then allows participants to set up kissing dates. "I think there are a lot of people who feel that to kiss outside the context of a relationship is bad. They would call it a fling or meaningless," a student spokesman for the site said in a telephone interview. "We say that people have the right to decide what a kiss means to them." The students operating the site are trying to remain anonymous.

In part, the site is a reaction to the pressure that often comes in dating at BYU and in Utah County, where young adults are encouraged to date with marriage in mind. As of Friday, the number of participants had ballooned to 47 women and more than 200 men, most of whom gave Utah County zip codes. "We've had a few people write and thank us and say that they've set up some encounters and a few have even blossomed into relationships," said one site spokesman. "That's part of our idea -- there's a lot of pressure here to get married and that puts an added pressure on dating. But if someone goes on a date already knowing that there are no strings attached, then that takes some of the pressure off and in many ways that's a better way to start a relationship."

"It was originally done to have fun. We didn't plan on it getting media attention or getting as big as it has," said the spokesman, who says the site was started on a lark. And many of the students who registered are also on a lark. Kacey Smith, who claimed to have bet a girlfriend she'd kiss 100 men by the end of the year, had 13 takers by 10 a.m. Thursday. Two of them even sent photos. "The truth is I am doing this as a joke, and I am not going to meet any one of these guys," she said.

But morality lectures have already been aimed at the site, following a story in BYU's Daily Universe. The Universe article quotes LDS on campus bishops, a BYU professor and former LDS Church president Spencer W. Kimball about the evils of making out.

"To kiss in casual dating is asking for trouble. What do kisses mean when given out like pretzels and robbed of sacredness?" wrote President Kimball.

"It feels to me like two people meeting in a bar and going out and having sex. Not to that degree, but it has that same spirit about it," said Matt Holman, 19, a freshman from Danville, Calif. BYU's Brent Barlow, a marriage preparation class teacher, said it bothers him that the site was started by BYU students. "It's healthy for there to be an attraction between the male and the female..., but you can use the physical body for evil purposes. That's the definition of prostitution, using the physical body for purposes other than that for which it was intended."

"If you read what the prophets have said, you're heading in the wrong direction if you're getting into that," said Steve Baker, director of the Honor Code Office. Baker has reviewed the website and says it "might not be in violation of the honor code particularly." Still, he thinks it may end up causing trouble. "Can I see a potential problem once we get to the bottom of this? Yes."

Winston Egan, Bishop of the BYU 13th Ward, is also worried about the site. "Intimacy turns your mind to mush, so you're really not able to make good decisions," he said. "I think this web site shows that all of us are looking for a certain amount of intimacy, which is an important part of development and human behavior in general. I wouldn't want to play down the importance of intimacy, but there is a time, a place and an intensity."

But the site's designers disagree, "Critics say they feel we're devaluing kissing, that we're degrading what should be an intimate act between two people who are in love with one another. We have a more liberal stance on kissing," the Web site spokesman said.

Still, BYU's University Police are concerned that students may put themselves in danger through the service. "We have some concerns because we sometimes deal with Internet date rape, where people use the Internet to create a relationship with somebody they do not know and then they agree to meet somewhere and they're meeting for the first time, all alone, often in a remote area, and there may be a potential for sexual assault," said Sgt. Robert Eyre of University Police.

See also:

Student Web site excites kissing controversy
BYU NewsNet 9Feb0 D4
By Sarah Monson: Newsnet Maestro Coordinator


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