COLLEGE IS that time of life when the theory of eroticism reaches a crisis of pragmatism. In other words, everything--and we mean everything--is sexualized. It is up to you to glean what leaps over the line of titillating flirtation and into the sordid overgrown field of sexual harassment. This is the not-so-fun part of your education.

The law defines two different types of sexual harassment. First there's quid pro quo, which equates to "Sleep with me or you're not going to get what you want" (e.g., good grades, a job, whatever). The second type is defined as "Hostile Working Environment," and has proven swampier in the courts, because the definition revolves around what a "reasonable person" can put up with at work, or what a "reasonable person" is insulted or demeaned by.

"Reasonableness" is tricky, because women historically haven't been considered reasonable in legal situations anyway--they've been more typically considered hysterical or unreliable. But if you are uncomfortable at all with something someone is asking of you in a social or working situation, you should feel free to express it. Expletives are perfectly acceptable. If someone grabs your ass, slap him (ass-grabbing constitutes assault, so feel free to assault right back). And if someone calls you Tootsie, call him a jackass.

Obviously, rape is the clearest instance of someone overstepping the "sexual harassment" line. Police stats show that rapes are on the rise in Seattle, particularly in the north part of town, which includes the University of Washington. This fucking sucks, and despite the frequency of the crime, rape is still commonly misunderstood. Rape by someone you know is (duh) still rape, and the drunken frat boy who quietly but relentlessly insists that you let him fuck you is as much a rapist as the stranger who jumps you on a late-night street. Be careful--watch out for "roofies" (unattended drinks are a no-no); and if you are raped, remember that it's not your fault, and that there are people here to help you.

All of the major universities and colleges here in Seattle have departments that specifically address sexual harassment and/or rape issues--or, for off-campus assistance, you can contact the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center at 1-800-825-7273 (24-hour crisis line). Another great off-campus resource is Home Alive, which provides self-defense and boundary-setting classes (720-0606).

• The University of Washington sponsors the student-run Committee Organizing Rape Education (CORE), which offers programs, presentations, and volunteer opportunities (543-4238), and also the Sexual Assault Referral and Information Service (SARIS), which is completely anonymous and open 24 hours (685-4357, saris@u.washington.edu). Students may also choose to go through the University Complaint Investigation Resolution Office, which will initiate a formal investigation (616-2028). You should also take advantage of Night Ride, a van that operates every 15 minutes after dark, free with U-PASS (601-0099); and UW Cares, a service that sends student employees to walk with students after dusk (685-WALK).

• Seattle Central Community College has a kick-ass Women's Program that offers not only career and social counseling, but also financial aid and child care. The Wednesday Noon Lecture Series, on varying topics, is free and open to all students and to the public (587-3854). Campus Security can be reached at 587-5442.

• North Seattle Community College has a range of security services, open seven days a week, day and evening. These include Evening Security Escort, First Aid, Vehicle Assistance, and Emergency Response. The office can be reached at 527-3636.

• Seattle Pacific University's Counseling Center can be reached at 281-2016. The Health Center's number is 281-2231. The Office of Safety & Security is 281-2922. The Christian-oriented university also offers something called "The Center for Relationship Development," which hosts things called Soul Mates Seminars and Marriage Cruises. Yikes.

• Seattle University goes the route of Peer Education, with a Sexual Assault Team that goes by the acronym "SASSY," (how that works out is a minor mystery), which offers education on acquaintance rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. SASSY is located at the Wellness and Prevention Office, 296-2278.