At the beginning of the Spring 2023 semester, Lewis & Clark College’s executive council approved a new leash policy for men at the college. The policy, in pertinent part, reads “Male students must be registered with the college and under the direct physical or voice control of a female companion at all times.” The policy further specifies the appropriate behavior for men in residence halls and classrooms.
The executive council justified their decision in a statement released to the greater community, writing that
“After considering a number of policy interventions, we have decided that implementing this leash policy is the most enforceable and cost-effective way of dealing with the recent surge of raucous, uncouth and unacceptable behavior of male students on campus,” the statement read. “Also, we just want to clarify, it’s not a sex thing.”
Needless to say, the policy has faced a mixed reception. To investigate the effects on campus, I strapped on my teal collar (reflective, for the active dog), my leash (green, a hand me down from the family pet,) and grabbed my one “female” friend, and we were off!
Carl Barx ’23 loves the new policy. When I met with Barx in the Dovecote, he was rocking a handsome red leather collar with matching leash, popular among classic, traditional dogs.
“This was basically what me and my girlfriend were doing already,” Barx said. “But now, I’m just allowed to do it in the Bon. I really like it, actually.”
His girlfriend, Missy Morales ’23, felt similarly, but did voice some reservations.
“I think it’s fantastic that Carl and I can really be ourselves,” Morales said. “My only issue is when I have to hand him off for class. We have one class period where we have different classes, so I have to give him over to a friend. I trust her to watch him, and he’s really well behaved, but it does feel kind of weird letting someone else hold his leash.”
I thanked Barx and Morales for their honesty, and wished them the best.
Next, I talked to Jeremy Snoutz ’25, chairman of the Meninist Student Union. Snoutz expressed some concerns.
“I mean, first they’re making men wear collars… what next?” Snoutz said. “Are they gonna mandate neutering, too? Circumcision is bad enough!”
This descended into a diatribe on the evils of circumcision, to which I listened patiently. After all, he made some points. When asked if Snoutz intended to adhere to the policy, and if not, how he intended to voice his displeasure, he informed me that he likely would be wearing the collar, for totally non-sexual reasons. He also gave me his Twitter handle, telling me he’d be “teasing something big” in the next few days. The curious reader can find him on Twitter (@lc_mensu). For an extra treat, be sure to check his liked posts.
Even professors are required to follow the leash policy. To get their perspective on the issues, I spoke to Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Associate Professor of Government Jack Russell, as the leash requirement has deeply impacted his teaching.
“I do understand why this policy was put in place,” Russell said. “But the changes that are happening on this campus increasingly leave out considerations of professors. My female colleagues have enough work to do without having to sit through extra class hours to supervise me, especially at the very end of the day or on the law campus.”
To avoid having a female coworker supervise his entire class, Russell is often tied to the speaker podium or a table at the front of the class — his harness of choice being a spiffy tweed, classically professorial in a ’90s sort of way.
However, Russell, who is a pacer, tends to walk out to the end of his leash without realizing, resulting in a painful tug on the neck and the occasional tumble to the ground. This sounded difficult and a little humiliating, so I offered my sympathies. Had he ever tried a retractable leash, I asked?
“Not yet,” Russell said. “But that’s a good idea. Maybe I’ll pick one up on the way home from work.”
Last, I went and talked to a critical segment of our student body: resident advisors. As the leash policy explicitly includes communal kitchens, lounges and bathrooms, RAs have a unique enforcement challenge.
Mitten Mutts ’25 and Olive Oso ’25, two Copeland RAs, reported that one of the most difficult components of enforcement was trying to determine if an individual should be leashed.
“I don’t want to assume that anyone should be leashed because of how they look, or act, you know?” Oso said. “This policy is a new way to explore how gender is presented on campus. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble for trying something new.”
This was a good point, and something that I, a transgender individual, appreciated. Mutts agreed, and then posed a potentially even wider problem.
“There really aren’t many women in my friend group,” Mutts said. “So, even though I’m nonbinary, I sometimes hold my boyfriend’s leash, just because of how inconvenient it is to always have to call an actual woman I know to walk my boyfriend home from the Bon or something.”
This, too, I sympathized with. My only female friend is currently studying abroad, so me and my friends had all been getting walked around by our one femme nonbinary friend. Anecdotes from around campus shared similar stories of nonbinary individuals bending themselves back into the gender binary so their masc or even male friends can get out for some exercise.
Overall, I heard a variety of viewpoints from people on campus. Since the policy was implemented, reports of rowdy and raucous boy behavior are way down, as well as reports of squirrel maulings (both by and of male students.). However, the extreme nature of the policy, as well as the wide brush with which it paints all male students, has provoked criticism. After all, some are good boys (such good boys!). Student affinity groups on campus are working with the student government to allow any male student on voice command being allowed off-leash on campus green spaces.
As it seems unlikely that the policy will change anytime soon, grab that collar, clip on that leash (currently on sale at the Bookstore and Co-Op) and get ready to go throw a frisbee around on the lawn. Give man’s best friend (himself) some love, and extend your hand to hold (his leash.)