Sexual Awareness Week bestows knowledge on campus

March 30 through April 3 marked the first ever Sexual Awareness Week: a program that included numerous activities highlighting issues surrounding the broad topic of sexuality.

While the inspiration to bring to light issues of sexuality was initially a diminutive effort headed by junior Vicki Walsh, she brainstormed with her supervisors - Yolany Gonell, area coordinator for Putnam and Wyoming Halls and senior Tom Johns, assistant resident director for Putnam Hall - and synergized their efforts into a week-long program, held mostly in Wyoming Hall.

This past week's aim was to emphasize sexuality as a whole, encompassing anything that is distinguished by sex such as sexual activity, sexual orientation and sexual identity and gender.

"It was a week to take these issues off the back burner and bring them to the center of attention - to study and to learn about them, and hopefully gain a new and better perspective [and] become more sexually aware," said Welsh.

The documentary Anyone and Everyone was shown on Monday night to address the issue of sexual orientation and, in particular, homosexuality.

"The film is about parents across the United States from diverse origins and religions who are connected by having a child who is gay," said Walsh. "They discuss their experiences with how their children revealed that they're homosexual and the ways in which they responded." Walsh suggested that all students view the film because of how powerful and moving she feels it is.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, a "48-hour Challenge" was held, in which all the residents of Wyoming Hall were dared to use a public bathroom of the opposite sex. Walsh explains that the purpose of the challenge was to help residents relate to the event held Thursday night - a presentation on transgender by guest speaker Erik Libey of AIDS Rochester.

"For persons of transgender, using a public bathroom can be confusing, uncomfortable, embarrassing or even dangerous," said Walsh. "Through serious, honest discussion of what it really means to be transgender, the topic of sexual identity/gender was explored and clarified."

Friday night concluded the week-long smorgasbord of events with condom bingo. Residents were provided with the opportunity to have fun and socialize in a setting conducive to promoting safe sex. Condoms, complimentary of Lauderdale Health Center, and T-shirts stating, "Just Wear It," were given to attendees.

Sexual Awareness Week was deemed a success due to a high turnout at events.

"Even for those residents who could not attend, all the advertisements for the events definitely got people thinking and provided a basis for conversation of the issues surrounding sexuality," said Walsh.