USF a popular spot for Craigslist encounters
Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 21:07
The popular classified site Craigslist contains many posts relating to the USF area. But not all users are selling bikes or giving away furniture.
Whether legitimate or not, several posts on the site suggest USF’s campus as a meet-up spot for casual, and many times sexual, encounters.
At 10:40 a.m. last Friday, one user posted that he needed a study break.
“On campus free for a few hours looking to play maybe in the library,” he posted. “I’m real, you be too.”
Some boasted of their sexual prowess and willingness to engage in activities with anyone available on or near campus, while others looked for non-sexual companions at USF to join them on “adventures.”
“About to take a bubble bath,” one poster wrote. “Anyone want to join me? No sex. You can even wear your bikini if you’re uncomfortable.”
David, a former Craigslist user who requested to be identified by first name only, said while locations vary, USF — a public location with over 40,000 people who frequent it daily — is a hot spot for people often afraid of the risk involved with meeting a complete stranger.
“People on Craigslist post ads all the time to meet at USF,” he said. “Usually it’s in the library bathrooms, on the higher-up floors.”
David, who is not a USF student himself, said that he has made online “hook-up” plans at the USF campus “at least 15 times.”
But most of his experiences have either been in Cooper Hall or the dorm in which his partner resides.
Though he has used multiple websites to find partners, he said Craigslist usually generates the quickest responses — at times, in a matter of minutes.
“I don’t know anyone who’s actually used it for the purpose of finding a relationship,” he said.
Users of the website make no attempt to hide their motivations, often posting explicit photos of themselves and straightforward requests of specific activities they wish to engage in.
“Basically, if you like the ad someone posted, you message them and they have certain criteria you have to meet, and they’ll ask for photos usually,” David said. “If you meet the criteria, you pick a time and a place.”
However, he said, even with some criteria, situations can be illegitimate. Once, David received a photo from an older Craigslist user that was taken ten years prior to the encounter, and no longer resembled the person.
“There’s no way of knowing if it’s legitimate,” he said. “It’s kind of scary sometimes.”
And many situations aren’t legitimate, Jay Camacho, a Craigslist user who lives in the USF area said. Camacho said he often uses Craigslist without serious intent.
“I always like to have fun trolling around on the net, so I just love lurking around the casual sex section and respond to bizarre ads on there,” he said. “The point of Craigslist is to have a home for the creepy people, but I guess it depends on what you define as
Camacho said while he hasn’t met many of the people he’s communicated with on Craigslist in person, Craigslist brings a large variety of people.
“I meet all types of people on Craigslist — criminals, an ex-porn star,” he said. “You would be amazed to find out who’s on the other end of the computer screen. I haven’t really had any face-to-face encounters with a lot of them, so if they tell me they are a certain person, I just have to believe it. I have met the ex-porn star though. She’s sweet.”
But many encounters on Craigslist often go unanswered with false profiles responding to urgent posts seeking instant gratification.
University Police Spokesman Lt. Chris Daniel said UP has never been called to respond to any reports of sexual activity in public buildings on campus.
Though no specific university policy explicitly prohibits sexual intercourse on campus, some Florida laws prohibit “lewd” or “indecent” behavior.
“To me that kind of goes unsaid because we’re an academic institution, not a hotel,” Daniel said.
If UP were alerted of any such instances, Daniel said they would immediately respond to them.
“We would investigate any case brought to our attention, and look at it in the context of the Florida statutes,” he said. “Just because you’re in a public building, it doesn’t mean your behavior is in accordance with the city statutes or something along those lines. We’d also have to make sure it was a mutual situation. If not, we’d investigate it as a sexual battery.”
Saboria Thomas, a public health grad student, who has used Craigslist for the purpose of selling her television and bicycle, said that any form of interaction with people on Craigslist can be risky and recommends public locations for most transactions.
“It can be kind of intimidating, because people are sometimes coming to your apartment to check stuff out,” she said. “I always try to have someone else in my apartment with me in that situation. I feel like (hooking up with someone would be) so dangerous.”