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Sexual responsibility week values diversity

With the arrival of Valentine’s Day last week, love is certainly in the air on campus.

In light of the romantic atmosphere, it is fitting that the Wellness Center chose this time frame to schedule its Sexual Responsibility Week.

The annual event promotes sexual responsibility for St. Olaf students in a variety of formats, from panels to game shows. The Wellness Center highlights key points that every student should know, including encouraging students to be aware of their sexual health status and resources and to engage in an ongoing conversation about sex and wellness in their community.

This year, the events were centered around the theme “Putting Sex in Perspective.”

“The theme was constructed from discussions about sex as not only a health-related issue, but also a topic that has intersections in mental health, society and social norms, in clinical terms and innumerable other ways,” said Lynna Long ’13, a peer educator in the Wellness Center. “With the week’s events we hoped to provide a new scope in which one could discuss sex, sexual responsibility and wellness.”

The idea comes from the BACCHUS Network, a worldwide network of peer educators and advisors who seek to accomplish the same goals held by the Wellness Center.

“The BACCHUS Network is a larger organization that we model our work on,” Long said. “Their website is a valuable resource for us in terms of structuring our events, as they run a lot of similar activities like SRW and Safe Spring Break.” While the network serves as a source of inspiration for the Wellness Center, the center still aims to keep its events targeted toward the St. Olaf student body, tackling issues and topics unique to this campus.

“We are aware that there is a potential stigma against certain topics so we try to use language that’s very inclusive,” Long said. “With sexual responsibility, there’s an assumption that it’s going to be a heteronormative event, so we try to use language to let people know that it’s all-inclusive. We are reaching out to freshmen and faculty to show that we’re a daily, casual resource, not one that you only go to in a dire situation.”

The week kicked off with “Drugs, Sex and Rock’n’Roll” on Feb. 10 and was followed by a different activity every night, finishing with “One Night Bland” on Friday, Feb. 15, which discussed sex as more than just a physical activity. In addition to these events, the Wellness Center collaborated with the Sexual Assault Research Network SARN on a Healthy Relationship Panel and hosted HIV 101 Jeopardy with Oles Face AIDS.

Even with all of these scheduled events, the Wellness Center has seen the most student participation through simple interactions with the week’s hallway display, which was set up between Buntrock and Rolvaag. This “event” was loaded with information on various types of contraception and STI trivia.

Overall, the week aimed to approach sex from multiple standpoints.

“We hope students were able to learn about sexual responsibility through different perspectives,” said Kate Chrisinger ’14, who serves as the student director of the center. “It’s important to learn about the different aspects of what it means to be sexually responsible – like being emotionally ready for sex.”

“My hope is that SRW 2013 informs students about the various perspectives of sex, encourages campus-wide conversations, brings to attention the importance of being sexually responsible and empowers students with the information to be sexually responsible,” Long said.