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“Freezing for a Reason”: Beer & Sex Sponsors Second Annual Polar Plunge

“Freezing for a Reason”: Beer & Sex Sponsors Second Annual Polar Plunge

By Winnie Anderson

Nearly 200 members of the Kenyon community “plunged” into the Kokosing River for the second annual Polar Plunge on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010, an event planned by Kenyon’s student-run Beer and Sex program.

Collectively, the participants donated $904. A donation of $704 went to to Kno-Ho-Co Ashland Community Action Commission’s family planning division, which provides free and inexpensive sexually transmitted disease testing, pregnancy testing and birth control to members of Knox County, including Kenyon students. Beer and Sex donated the remaining $200 to Kenyon’s Sexual Misconduct Advisors (SMAs) to help them start a rape crisis phone line that will enable them to be available anonymously 24/7.

Brandon Bollinger ’11, one of the Beer and Sex leaders and the main coordinator of the Plunge, explained where they got their inspiration: “A few of [the Beer and Sex leaders] used to just go swimming in the river, and then we decided … [to] invite the whole school. We started … during Beer and Sex training, and then we would go once a month or something, and then eventually it got cold and we were like, ‘Let’s try to do this in the freezing cold.'”

Bollinger said that because Kno-Ho-Co “deals with sexual health needs,” it seemed appropriate for Beer and Sex. Last year’s plunge donation was the first Kno-Ho-Co had ever received, according to Bollinger. “They thought we were going to give them $90, and we got $907,” he said.

Though nearly 200 plunged and many more came to show support, Bollinger said that last year there were “well over 200. … The main crowd we did not see this year were the faculty. Maybe they realized how cold it was last year, but we are going to push to get more faculty involvement next year.”

Despite the lack of faculty involvement, Bollinger said many more student groups participated this year. Among those who showed their support were women’s soccer, men’s and women’s rugby, men’s and women’s frisbee, women’s lacrosse, Peeps, Alpha Delta Phi and men’s cross country. “We also had a bunch of halls do it together, which was awesome,” Bollinger said. Beer and Sex leaders announced these groups over a megaphone as they ran into the water.

Caroline Steele ’14, a rugby player, said, “I thought it was fun doing it as a team.” She said that though her feet were freezing when she first entered the water, “You just dive in. It’s shocking, but it’s not that bad, [and] it’s worth it.”

Dan Tebes ’12, a Beer and Sex leader who did the Plunge last year, described similar shock upon entering the water: “When your head goes under the water, it feels like a brick wall,” he said.

Melissa Humphries ’12, another rugby player, did the Plunge last year and said the weather this year was much warmer, allowing her to plunge twice. “It’s always fun to get together as a team and come down here and do something kind of ridiculous,” she said.

Charlotte Greene ’14, who has done other Polar Plunges in the past, said, “I really enjoy semi-sadistic experiences, and I think this is for a good cause.”

In addition to helping Kno-Ho-Co and the SMAs, the Polar Plunge spreads awareness about the Beer and Sex Program. Beer and Sex leader Caroline Black ’12 said, “we want to keep this event an annual thing … because it is one of the only other things we do in addition to our opening program at the beginning of the semester for [first years]. She added that they are trying to host more public events in order to maintain their presence as a group.

Beer and Sex member Yukiha Maruyama ’12 agreed that the Plunge helps the Kenyon community understand the purpose of Beer and Sex. She said, “Some people might think it’s like health class, but it really isn’t. None of us are there to preach. [We say], ‘Here’s what happens at Kenyon. If you have any questions or anything, we’re here for you.'”

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