In Indonesia, the notion of 'study first' (kuliah dulu) pressures young adults to refrain from sex and delay marriage until they finish tertiary education. Recent scholarship has viewed choices to abstain from sex as evidence of the potency of values of modernisation, Islamic culture and the contemporary importance of moral and social order. By looking at how Dani university students from Papua, the country's easternmost province, view premarital sex and pregnancy while studying in North Sulawesi, this article shows that the moral regulation of reproductive and educational aspirations invokes defensive reactions among indigenous men and women experiencing stigma and discrimination from local Indonesians. Qualitative interview results and case studies of pregnancy offer insights into the ways that indigenous men and women respond to racial stigma with a political interpretation of sexuality and pregnancy by arguing that education and reproductive achievements make vital contributions to indigenous agendas. In particular, practices of unofficial 'marriage' supported men's and women's need to defend themselves against stigmatisation, and enabled some women to feel positive about premarital pregnancies.