The student body. For sale

On “body commodification”.
Last year saw a rash of rather prurient press stories about students acting as escorts to help with university fees. Although vastly over-stated there are parallels with some developments recently reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

The sale of bodily goods or services—”body commodification”—is nothing new among college students. But strides in medical technology, the encroachment of market values on all facets of life, and the reach and culture of the Internet have combined to create a fertile environment for people who want or need to exploit the value of their skin or what lies beneath it—including students struggling to cover the rising cost of college in this sluggish economy.

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Students sell plasma, take requests to perform custom erotic acts on Web cameras, or offer themselves as guinea pigs in paid drug trials. A master’s student in Penfield, N.Y., says she was kicked out of her social-work program last June for snuggling with strangers—no sex allowed—for $60 an hour. A handful of Web sites, like SeekingArrangement.com, promise introductions to young and attractive men and women—often students—for “mutually beneficial relationships.” An advertisement in campus newspapers at three elite colleges offers $35,000 for the eggs of a young woman with an SAT score above 1400. And though no one in the United States is openly selling kidneys from live donors, Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics started receiving inquiries from financially desperate people after it posted an article on its Web site in 1998 exploring the ethical issues that would surround such a market.

It’s not a terribly attractive prospect but I fear we are going to see more of this kind of thing.

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