Sometime around Spring Break, sheets of printer paper with the phrase "kink@olaf" printed boldly in the center, began appearing around campus. The flyers were advertising a new, underground club that centers around BDSM culture and lifestyle. Students' initial amusement and mild shock surfaced on social media, but the new club initially faded into the background.



David DeLuca '15 founded the group after noticing a lack of sexual openness and acceptance at St. Olaf. According to DeLuca, the goal of BDSM/kink@olaf is to "discuss different ways of viewing sex and relationships." The club centers around BDSM, explaining and answering questions about the lifestyle and methods.



BDSM stands for "bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism." "Kink" is a broader term referring to any sexual practices that go beyond the conventional.



The group BDSM/kink@olaf was thrust back into the spotlight on April 22 at 3:30 pm, when there was a bondage demonstration in Fireside.



"It was pretty disruptive, no one could focus," Lesley Kraft '15 said. "A couple of my friends gathered up their things and left because they were so uncomfortable."



While some students found the demonstration to be amusing, many reactions to the group's event have been negative.



"It was just a really inappropriate spot to film a bondage demonstration. I am very sex positive, but they definitely went about it the wrong way," Kraft said.



The unsupportive student reactions do not bother those involved in the club.



"People on this campus have a hard time accepting diversity. When something strange and upsetting happens on this campus, they complain," DeLuca said.



Social media platforms such as Yik Yak revealed more amplified student reactions. One post read, "To the people filming a BDSM demonstration in Fireside: No. Just. No." Another Yik Yak user defended the demonstrations, stating that their intentions were to raise awareness for the club. The group also used Yik Yak to answer questions about the club and BDSM.



DeLuca took the criticisms in stride.



"I can understand why people say that. It may have been offensive but it wasn't indecent," he said. "Any accusations of it being sexually explicit are unfounded. I respect [the opinions], but I don't see that as a justification for [the display] not happening. It raised awareness for our group and it will happen again."



Some students have reacted in a more positive manner.



"It's personally not something that I'm interested in, but I think that it's great that the St. Olaf community is openĀ enough for everyone to express their own interests," Megan Bjorkman '18 said.



Yik Yak was also used as a tool to get the word out about BDSM/kink@Olaf meetings.



"It was somewhat helpful, somewhat not," DeLuca said.



The group itself is sparsely populated. About four students regularly attend meetings, and there are only 10 likes on the BDSM/kink@olaf Facebook page. The club's weekly meetings provide an opportunity for members to chat casually about a wide range of BDSM and kink related issues. Topics in the past have included what it means to be sexually explicit, play party etiquette and polyamory.



"Meetings are open to everyone. We don't pressure anyone to talk, we don't interrogate, and it is a judgment free zone. Sometimes we even have food. Anyone is welcome," DeLuca said.



Meetings for the BDSM/kink@olaf club are held on Sundays at 9 pm in the basement lounge of Larson. The topic of the meeting on May 10 will be a debate on the relationship between human nature, violence and BDSM.



"[The group's ultimate goal is]to open up a discussion about the way that people view sex and relationships in our community," DeLuca said.



Another rope-tying demonstration is being planned for the coming weeks.



barkle1@stolaf.edu