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October 17, 2017

This Week’s ‘Safer Sex’ Events Challenge Safe Sex Ideas on Campus

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Safe sex is more than just wearing a condom, says a group of residential advisors on campus through the planning and execution of Safer Sex Week.

Events of the week — organized by a group of R.A.’s — have challenged conventional explanations of safe sex this week in a series of events on sexual health.

Sex education on college campuses often falsely assume that every student has an idea of what safe sex is, said Kierra Grayson ’19, an R.A. at Ujamaa. In reality, she said, there are just as many students who know how to have safe sex as there are people who do not really know what it is.

Grayson added that sexual education often focuses too much on contraceptives and abstinence and not enough on consent.

Events as part of this week include a national walking campaign on Sunday in honor of Yeardley Love — a University of Virginia student who was killed by her ex-boyfriend three weeks before the date of her graduation in 2010.

Another event, the Greek Tri-Council Summit on Sexual Assault is scheduled for Wednesday. This summit will teach students how to identify problematic sexual behavior, said Theoria Cason, assistant director for Residential and New Student Programs.

For Cason, the ultimate aim of this week’s events is to shift conventional approaches to consent culture to involving the entire community.

“Shifting the campus culture is a community effort,” Cason said. “It is important that student groups work in partnership to address the problem of sexual misconduct.”

The program will also distance itself from promoting sexual health through means of abstinence, “because that’s just not realistic,” Grayson said.

Instead of only promoting abstinence, which would contribute to social stigma against sex, the tailored events will recognize it as a reality on college campuses.

“The best way to do it would be to not try to curb sexual behavior but discuss how to have sex in a way that is healthy, protects people and doesn’t infringe on anyone’s comfortability or their own,” Grayson said.

A crucial component of this aim is spreading the knowledge that campus resources do exist to support students, Cason said.

The events were organized by a group of R.A.s at dorms on campus whose involvement is centered on inclusivity and consent — called the Community and Respect Resident Assistants, or CORE R.A.s.

Planning for the week’s events began since the R.A.s returned to campus for their training for the fall semester.

“Our mission is to address the taboos of sex and how to be safe no matter what kind of sex you are having,” Grayson said.

While involved in the planning of the week’s events, Grayson said that the events address sexual health issues on college campuses through four themes: empowerment, sexual health, asexuality and pleasure.

After this week’s events, Grayson said, the CORE R.A.s will continue to develop programs in residence communities given that the group views issues related to sex as a constant discussion topic on college campuses.

“The goal of Safer Sex Week is to encourage healthy, positive and safe sexual attitudes and behaviors,” Cason said. “We want to empower students to make respectful, consensual choices.”