Public Displays of Affection

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Public Displays of Affection (PDA), including excessive kissing, holding, and pretty much anything further that shows adoration, love, or affection, are completely outlawed according to CTY rules. However, it turns out it's very hard to enforce PDA rules when you've got several hundred sexually deprived teenagers all in one place (a generation lost in space)! PDA rules are thus subject to alteration over the years, and students are constantly looking for ways around these rules.

Depending on the administration and the residential staff, PDA rule enforcement can be incredibly harsh, or mild and sometimes jocular. RAs are often seen patrolling dances with a stuffed toy, a flashlight, or a plastic bat, separating students who are dancing too close (the RAs themselves will sometimes pointedly dance far apart from each other; alternately, they will do the exact opposite). In better years, more lenient RAs might make a show out of turning their backs on students for several seconds at a time. In contrast to residential staff, instructional staff tend not to involve themselves as much with PDA rules.

Most PDA at CTY is fairly public, but it would be a rare year if something of greater scale happened than making out for extended periods (but, then again, the rules are for Public, not Private, Displays of Affection). Regarding this, as one RA put it: "All clothing should remain in place. And it's no excuse if he/she shows up naked."


Brief hugging is acceptable, leading to the well-circulated joke, "Ten seconds and you're pregnant!" Five-second closed-mouth kissing is also acceptable, but it is easy to get away with much longer ones. Hand holding is also fine.

In 06.1, the standard of "It's not PDA if a mother can do it to a child without it being incest" was popularized by Molly Brean and circulated among the students.

The rule is possibly the result of arguably over-the-top behavior at Lancaster in 1985, but may have evolved independently at multiple sites over time.

Modern History

In 2001, a list of "Don'ts" was published on all hall bulletin boards, featuring "No guys on girl halls or girls on guy halls." Seizing on the double negative, students claimed this rule would be violated if there were a guys' hall that didn't have a girl on it or a girls' hall that didn't have a guy on it. The wording of this rule was soon changed. However, two of the actions that can lead to expulsion are still "No males on female halls," and "No females on male halls." Several students went on to point out that the rule said "on", not "in", so they'd only get in trouble if they were on the roof of a girls' hall. That is, if they could get across the Quad. All the other actions are listed as verbs.

In 2006, many new PDA rules were created and enforced. These new rules included no holding hands, no linking arms, no hugging for more than three seconds, no open-mouth kissing, no grinding, no slow dancing less than half a foot apart (a.k.a. "Six Inches!"), and "keeping hands above the equator." The more absurd of these rules were only intermittently enforced, such as hand-holding and arm-linking, thereby creating a chance to form "PDA Chains." After a call to (or from; details are uncertain) JHU, made after one student petitioned (Molly Brean) and parents duly complained, the administration decided to change some of the more ridiculous rules, notably the hand-holding rule. However, students were not informed of this change and many staff found out only after a long delay. Donna Dougherty, an elementary school teacher who had no experience handling sexually deprived teenagers (or, it is likely, things like puppies or air or bedsheets), is still considered one of Lancaster's worst site directors.

See also: The Lancaster Hall of Shame.

The worst of these rules had passed by second session, but a "no lying on the grass" rule was introduced. Enforcement depended on the RA. Some RAs appeared confused by the new limits. Frank Wang informed a particular couple that there was "No... lying... on the... uh, grass..." as if he didn't know what that green plant covering the ground was.

Era of the Grass Orgy Ban

The next year, with the advent of Site Director Brian, most of the Donna-induced craziness had worn off. RAs were much more lax about PDA, breaking up only the most serious of PDA infractions. The primary cause of complaint in 2007 was the banning of grass orgies. Brian chalked this down to Baltimore's fear of trampling; however, popular belief was that this rule arose out of worries about nomenclature.

LAN PDA Rules.jpg

An odd message appeared on the paper that the RAs read off of at one of the hall meeting, stating, "One butt per seat, one face per face." The phrase "one face per face" caused an excessive amount of confusion amongst the students, but an RA later confirmed that it simply means a student is not allowed to rip the face off of another student and tape it onto his/her own.

Towards the end of session, RA Jeremy, after (correctly) suspecting illicit activities going on in a circle, broke up said circle mercilessly and placed a (completely unofficial) ban on standing in circles for the remainder of the session. He attempted first to observe the students' activities by standing in the middle of the circle, but nothing prevented those behind him from covertly making out. This scenario can only indicate that, being as clever as they are, CTY students will forever find ways to outsmart the PDA rules.

The grass orgy ban was informally lifted in 2008 (although the administration, led by Site Director Debbie and DRL Matt, took an official stance that grass orgies would always be illegal). In Session 2, all co-ed lounges were closed, and a number of students were punished, due to a hickey circle discovered in one lounge (although Schnader lounge was closed not because of PDA, but rather, a watermelon*). Arguably, student violations of PDA rules may have gone too far in 2008, in the case of rumors of two students stripping entirely towards the end of a rendition of the CTY Chant after Passionfruit. Milder stripping to the chant also occurred, mostly in the form of top-removal (bras stayed on).

  • This begs for clarification: Somebody got really mad and smashed a watermelon all over the lounge, so it was closed for cleanup.

In 2009.1, grass orgies were banned again, due to Baltimore's "safety concerns," and the RAs enforced the rule very strictly. Lying next to or on top of someone on the grass was also forbidden. Grass orgies, as usual, were held on the first and last days of session. In addition, there was one very strange rule that prohibited hugging for more than three seconds between anyone. A joke spread through the camp saying hugging for more than three seconds was what got guys pregnant, as everyone at CTY knew hugging does not get girls pregnant. Hand-holding and short closed-mouth kisses were still allowed.

In 2010.1, PDA rules were relaxed in general, to the appreciation of most. Grass orgies were banned for the first week of session, but this ban was lifted, as long as they were referred to as something other than "grass orgies." The terms "daisy chain" and "tummy party" were proposed by RAs, but generally mocked by students, as the concensus was that such names sounded more innately sexual than "grass orgy."

During 2011.2, the RAs were faced with several pairs of students that made it difficult to prevent PDA. In many cases, couples would work together to kiss in far, separate places (ex. the giant steps in front of South Ben and the grassy area immediately in front of Schnader North). This would inevitably lead to the RA being distracted by one couple while the other had its own fun.

In 2013.1, the RAs said hugs had to be three seconds long, but no one followed the rule. During the slow songs at dances, RAs stood on the balcony and shone a flashlight at any couple making out, which usually caused them to stop for a few seconds, then continue again. Grass orgies were permitted, although calling them grass orgies was not. It was very easy to hook up during dances or quad time.


In 2005.2, PDA rules at Carlisle were extremely strict and zero-tolerance: nothing besides hand-holding was accepted. However, in both previous and subsequent sessions, how PDA rules were enforced depended on the RA.

Hand-holding and short kissing are generally allowed; sitting on others' laps is not. RAs who catch PDA at Meet Market usually tell students to stop, and rarely stay to supervise for long durations.

Many PDA violations occur at dances. Slow-dancing is generally acceptable regardless of distance; however, RAs are on the lookout for couples making out or violating higher PDA rules. Before the last dance, the administration announced that any couple dancing "suggestively" would be put into time out: 5 minutes for the first hour, 15 for the second hour, and the rest of the dance if after 10:00. This rule was enforced depending on the RA. Some couples or groups were warned repeatedly and not put in the penalty box while others where never warned and put in the penalty box right away. Being in the penalty box warranted both a time out and an official write-up, such that it was noted in the student's permanent record.

As recently as 2008, grass orgies were allowed.

In 2010, Grass Orgies were strictly banned.

In 10.2, a CTYer, Kyj (pronounced Key) started a new trend: the sexual harassment panda song. Whenever a couple was witnessed holding hands or sitting together, a group rendition of the song was started. There was even a mass chorus of it during Starcrash during a particularly provocative scene. Although the RAs were on patrol, they were fairly tolerant. They once memorably interrupted a grass orgy with a choreographed dance of flashing lights and allowing kissing.

One new rule instated during 10.2 was that no laying down was allowed during meetmarket (aka making out on KW lawn). This rule was fought by RA Diana, but to no avail.

As of 14.1, the only forms of PDA allowed are holding hands, hugs, slow dancing, and very short kisses. To paraphrase the Site Director, Lesa's, explanation, if they would show it in a (G-rated) Disney movie, then we will allow it here. The no laying down at meet market rule was abolished, but Grass Orgies/Cuddle Puddles are still technically against the rules, though most RAs just say to keep heads below knees (definitely not on stomachs) and walk away.

Saratoga Springs (Skidmore)

In 2005, SRA Felicia brought Tater to CTY. Tater was a stuffed potato who was stuck on the end of a stick and was used to separate overly-intimate slowdancing, hence the phrase "Leave room for Tater." Tater stuck around for 06.2, in which the first Saturday Mandatory Fun was called "Where's Tater." One of the staff members had supposedly stolen Tater and the activity was to solve puzzles to find out who did it. The original plan included more activities than puzzle solving, but it rained that day, so the RAs had to make up puzzles while the students watched Inspector Gadget. In the end, it turned out SRA Manan had stolen Tater, and he was returned. There was no rejoicing. Tater returns to Saratoga frequently, with the exception of (at least) 08.1, when he went visiting other sites. RAs resorted to modifying the phrase "Leave room for Tater" to fit the current dance theme.

2012 saw the arrival of RA James, who quickly became known for his frequent breaking up of dancing couples with the phrase "Leave room for Jesus and the Apostles!" and in 2013, his cube-shaped stuffed chicken toy (aka the cock-block) that he would flap at and stick between couples to startle them.

Dance rules at Saratoga Springs are relatively lenient compared to those at other sites. Couples grinding or slowdancing are generally not broken up, though kissing couples are occasionally. RAs sometimes patrol with a flashlight and are satisfied as long as they can "see the light" between dancing couples. However, large grinding chains, such as those formed in 08.1, suggest grinding is sanctioned or ignored. Twerking, which was highly frowned upon by RA James, was widely thought to be prohibited at Skidmore in 13.2 until Forevermore Spontaneous Twerker Morgan Jackson boldly twerked in front of the entire camp after the last dance. You go, Morgan.

One thing to note is RAs at Skidmore are not exactly adequate at patrolling the halls at night, for several students were able to sneak out of their halls and into the halls of their... um... friends. Once they're done doing rounds, which typically end at 2:30am, the halls are completely void of staff.

Lying on top of each other or parallel to each other is forbidden; however, stummy lays / grass orgies are entirely possible because they are formed by perpendicular lying. Grass orgies are not disrupted by RAs or any other staff.

Loudonville (Siena)

A no-PDA policy is enforced regularly at Siena, with the exception of minor PDA such as hugging, holding-hands, or cuddling. Enforcement becomes more lenient at dances, where undiscovered PDA occurs more frequently; grinding is occasionally allowed.

Since 2005, lying on the grass fully reclined has been prohibited. The enforcement of this rule has greatly grown over time.

In the last week of 2008.1, an activity called "PDA" recurred daily. It did not incorporate any actual PDA, but was certainly entertaining. Each day featured a different subject for which "PDA" was an acronym. These subjects included "Padua Dorm Activities," "Philosophical Debate Attacks," and "Play-Doh Appreciation."

Los Angeles (LMU)

In 2004, RAs began a serious PDA crackdown, especially at the dances, repeatedly separating slow-dancers and grinders of any sex combination. The intertwining of anyone's legs was also prohibited. Holding hands, non-mouth kisses, and half-second closed-mouth kisses were allowed, but no making out. Rules required that hands stay in "appropriate" places (this included not grabbing asses while dancing). Freaking was banned. Same sex grinding, oddly enough, was fine.

In 2006.2, a rule stating that people of different sexes could not lie on the ground together in close proximity was introduced. However, in years since then, grass orgies have been allowed with little regulation, though RAs and students have occasionally expressed worries about trampling. However, even during the flu scare of 2009, grass orgies occurred frequently. As many RAs objected to the name, many students mockingly renamed them "Daisy Chains." Oddly, the term "Daisy Chains" did not bother the RAs nearly as much. Additionally, the "foot orgy," a less comfortable variant, was invented.

In 10.1, RAs were inconsistent on enforcing PDA rules. Grass orgies and lap tag were usually broken up, but rarely various affectionate cuddle puddles (such as using one boy as a pillow for five girls during movie night and cuddling during talent show practice). It might have helped that there was really only one group being seriously PDA (the Pop Culture/Physics and friends conglomerate.)

In 2011.1, PDA rules were much more relaxed. Almost no couples were broken up due to PDA.

In 2015, PDA rules were loosely enforced. A 5-second kissing rule was briefly enforced during the first week but was mostly ignored by RAs after that.

In 2016, students were informed they were not allowed to lie on top of each other. This made forming grass orgies impossible. During the slow songs at dances, RAs would wave around flashlights to make sure students were not doing anything inappropriate. This killed most of the romance.

Baltimore (JHU)

In 2005, any PDA set off an alarm for RAs; they would come and ask your names and then call your parents. The next year, however, enforcement was more lenient. RAs turned the other way in Bugblatter Beast fashion, and makeouts happened at dances.

PDA rules are enforced less strictly during dances, when couples regularly make out in the middle of the dance floor where RAs can't see them from the perimeter of the Glass Pavilion. Despite the strictness of many Baltimore rules, PDA rules are generally not harshly enforced by the staff and administration.

Unknown: Two students are caught open mouth kissing on the Gentle Slope. When they try to leave the Gentle Slope with their dignity, they discover their lanyards are tangled, and they are stuck until an RA comes to help them out. The story is still told by RAs as of 08.1

In 10.2, hand holding, hugging, and closed-mouth 3-second kisses were allowed, but grass orgies were banned. Most of the RAs were lenient and turned the other way when they saw a couple, but some of the stricter RAs yelled at CTYers for kissing anywhere other than the hand.

In 11.1, only one couple was ever broken up. They had started making out during a movie before the lights were off *cough* Swiss Chris *cough*. There was the occasional, "Hey, how you guys doing?" from the RAs, but most PDA was left alone.

In 11.2, Kevin Lee and Mary Wan got together. Enough said.

In 14.1, RAs would split any couple closer than a foot apart and absolutely no PDA (of any sort) was allowed. One in particular (Moses, you know who you are: if you ever read this, make a mental note that couples are not the Red Sea and do not need to be parted) did this often. Banned PDA included hugging, cheek kissing, and anything else of the sort. A certain Australian and her blonde loverboy were broken up whilst kissing in the changerooms.

In 18.2, couples were often making out during Meetmarket; RAs were aware of it but did not take action. Thankfully, hand holding and hugging were allowed.

Baltimore (MSC)

The Marine Science Courses site is a Special site in Baltimore, which is a small scale site with only two courses, so the rules pertaining to PDAs are more obscure but are typically more laid back.

In 19.1, “Graythan” occurred, this lead to many, many breaches in the above code, RA’s were chill until the female student sat on the males lap, of which they were met with “1 butt to a seat, and that seat cannot be a human.”


05.2: Any slow dancing and most grinding was fine. Three-second closed-mouth kissing was generally allowed. Hand holding, arms around each other, and the like were also fine.


In 08.1, RAs were particularly strict about PDA. The six inch rule was often enforced. Some couples were picked on more than others based on how well known they were and whether or not they were repeat offenders.

At dances, the RAs walked through the crowd and separated couples if they were too close. The phrase "Hands Above the Equator" was often used when reprimanding slow dancing couples. Some RAs also used the phrase "Keep it Kosher." Grinding happened a lot. It was often broken up, only to continue as soon as the RA was gone.

Makeouts happened behind the bench in Farinon. This wasn't really possible at the dances, but during CAAsino night, two couples made out repeatedly on the ground behind the bench opposite the main room. The tree during Quad Time is also a common make out spot and is often patrolled during Quad Time.

During 08.2, a certain RA enforced a four/five and half second hug rule, which was obviously broken often. The strictness of PDA was upped because of this RA, who also didn't like it when couples had their arms around each others' waists. Oftentimes, couples making out during Quad Time would have a flashlight shone in their direction, causing the couple in question to break apart momentarily, then continue after the RAs left. Close slow dances were also interrupted by an RA, sometimes even more than one, when the RA(s) would dance between the couples.

In 13.1, RAs began enforcing "Make Room for Jesus," which basically entailed them walking around like monks with their hands together like they were praying, shoving their prayer-hands between couples making out, and screaming "MAKE ROOM FOR JESUS!"

In 13.2, RAs became more and more lax about PDA. In fact, it was almost encouraged. Certain RAs walked up to couples and told them basically to skip the small talk and relocate themselves to somewhere darker and less supervized in the quad in front of Watson Hall. The female RA's were obviously more strict on the public display of affection front and would break apart couples. This session proved that a friendship between a CTYer and RA could go a long way in the area of "obliviousness" when it came to pda. One RA even offered to take a boy camper into a girl's dorm. Relationships were encouraged and many RA's raised a blind eye until the head people of the site made an appearance. Many making out in the booths behind the bathrooms happened in 15.1 at the last dance including one lonely Asian dude searching for hottest guy and kissing his phone repeatedly the couples included but not limited to josiematy and Joe, Louis and Maddie, and Andrew and his phone