By Emma Ferschweiler
Students gathered for a workshop about sexuality, sex and consent hosted by the College’s Counseling and Prevention Services (CAPS) on Sept. 28 in Brower Student Center 225 East. The meeting was run by fellow students who are part of the Anti-Violence Initiatives (AVI) under CAPS. Co-sponsors for the event were the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, Delta Zeta sorority, Kappa Delta sorority and the College’s gender and sexuality alliance, Prism.
The AVI volunteers gave out freebies such as water bottles, fanny packs and condoms. The items displayed positive and inspirational messages, which were given to participants who interacted during the event. The volunteers wore purple shirts and gave away purple ribbons in support.
Junior psychology major Sophia Alexis is AVI’s Primary Prevention Intern and spearheaded the workshop. Alexis said the initiative wanted to start engaging in conversations about consent and sexuality early in the school year, which prompted this event.
“It’s important that students start to have conversations about sex in general,” Alexis said. “Growing up, I was never taught to talk about sex. Students are having these conversations uneducated, not having the background and context to back it up.”
Activities in the workshop addressed common misconceptions about sexual experiences and identity. Students first shared the first word that came to their minds when thinking about a sexually active female and male. This was followed by naming words for having sex.
Volunteers discussed the negative connotations applied to people who have sex, as well as the act itself. Among the major topics talked about was the lack of inclusivity in modern education systems for people in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as different sexual experiences.
Alexis said she hopes the participants are able to take what they learned with them moving forward.
“I think it's super important that they keep in mind all [the] different assets of consent,” Alexis said. “Also, being open to exploring their sexualities, whether that means with people of different genders.”
The next activity focused on a “Circles of Sexuality” handout that displayed different aspects of life and how sexuality encompasses it. Among the circles were sensuality, intimacy, sexual identity, sexual health and reproduction, and sexualization. Students were given topic cards and placed where the topic would fit in this spectrum. For instance, abortion would be under sexual health and reproduction.
Senior nursing major Alyssa Bentimorales attended the workshop and said she plans on talking with friends about this serious issue. She said the biggest takeaway for her was to be more vulnerable.
“I loved it,” Bentimorales said. “I thought it was pretty informative and interactive.”
Some participants shared their unfamiliarity with activities, such as these because of inadequate sex education in high school and middle school.
The final activity taught students how to communicate with their partners in an intimate setting using a “Slices of Sexuality” handout. The chart is meant to describe common conversations that would happen between couples as represented by a pizza pie.
Bentimorales said this topic should be talked about more because of over-sexualization in the media. She is concerned about her brother in eighth grade who is about to take sex education and worries that he is overexposed to sex and has not learned enough about it.
“I think it should continue to be talked about throughout high school,” Bentimorales said. “Hopefully, they’ll re-ramp it because I remember they never talked about a lot of things.”
AVI plans on holding similar events in the future, especially during domestic violence awareness month in October. Alexis said these meetings will center on this topic including bystander intervention, supporting survivors and healthy relationships.