The Tufts Sex Health Reps hosted a series of 27 events as part of Sex Health Week starting on Feb. 24. The week included a diverse range of events, featuring both large discussions and smaller seminars in which students were encouraged to participate.
According to Alexandra Donovan, the director of the Center for Awareness, Education, and Resources (CARE), the Sex Health Reps make up part of CARE along with Green Dot, a program encouraging bystander intervention in cases of sexual misconduct.
Annie Kapral, a Sex Health Rep who helped coordinate Sex Health Week, said that one of the main purposes of Sex Health Week was to allow the Sex Health Reps to reach more students.
“I think the first thing for me … is to bring awareness to the campus of this group and this office as a resource, but to do it in a kind of fun and engaging way,” Kapral, a senior, said.
Elena Phethean, another Sex Health Rep who helped coordinate the events throughout the week, echoed this sentiment.
“I think a huge part of the week for us is just to get our name out there,” Phethean, a junior, said.
Kapral added that Sex Health Reps are currently in their second year, and this is the second time Sex Health Week has taken place.
Donovan said that the idea for Sex Health Reps started as a way for students from different backgrounds in sex education to talk about consent and sex health with their peers.
“There was a big difference between what our students understood and the different levels of sex education that they were coming into touch with,” Donovan said. “And so we saw the need that this was programming that we wanted to do, and that … the best kind of programming was peer-to-peer.”
Donovan added that the mission of the CARE Office is both to prevent and properly respond to sexual misconduct that occurs on campus, saying that the Sex Health Reps aligned with this mission by starting a conversation about sex that could prevent sexual misconduct.
Kapral added that there are currently 11 Sex Health Reps and 22 coordinators working for the CARE Office.
Kapral also shared her hopes that as Sex Health Reps grows as a program, events such as Sex Health Week, along with Smut Slam, a night to share funny and embarrassing sex stories, will be well-known on the Tufts campus.
Phethean also emphasized that the events featured several different types of atmospheres, from “Sexy Trivia,” which occurred on Thursday and, according to Phethean, had over 100 people in attendance, to smaller group discussions around hookup culture at Tufts.
“Some events [were] more geared towards a smaller audience discussion, and some are meant to be … very fun and big,” Phethean said.
In addition, Phethean highlighted one of the events, titled “Zoë Ligon on Masturbation, Pleasure, and Stigma,” which took place last Wednesday.
“[Zoë Ligon] is a sex educator, writer [and] artist and she came and spoke about pleasure and stigma … which we thought was really important because I think a large focus of sex health and our group especially is sex positivity, so she really brought that with her talk,” Phethean said.
Maya Velasquez, who helped run the event “Sex Ed — College Edition with the Hill [Hall] FYAs,” which was held on Saturday, emphasized the importance of making events feel accessible to as many people as possible.
“[We] wanted to do something that was targeted to first-years,” Velasquez, a sophomore, said. “Sex Health Reps events can be kind of jarring. Everyone’s coming from different places in terms of sex education.”
Benjamin Lee, another Sex Health Rep and first year assistant in Miller Hall, echoed Velasquez’s sentiment, adding that the event would also allow first-years to understand what resources regarding sex health were available on campus.
“[As first-years], people are coming to Tufts from all sorts of different backgrounds, so whether that’s people that have had very comprehensive sexual education or people … where their only exposure is ‘Just say no’ or abstinence-only,” Lee said. “I think it’s really important to actively advertise the available resources and actively educate the Tufts community.”
Throughout this event, those who attended were introduced to various types of sex toys and asked to differentiate sex toys from dog toys. Afterward, Velasquez and Lee explained to those who attended who the Sex Health Reps were and the various resources regarding sex, such as sexually transmitted infection testing offered by the CARE Office and Health Services.
Donovan stated that the number and scope of events increased from last year to this year, saying that only 10 events were organized for last year’s Sex Health Week.
“One of the things that I think is so positive about having … a focused week is the variety of different topics that we talked about from pain, or chronic pain, and sex all the way to sex toys,” Donovan said.
Donovan also said that the CARE Office and Sex Health Reps were looking to work more with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Kapral expanded on this increase in event organizing, saying that Sex Health Reps worked with diverse groups on campus.
“Even during Sex Health Week, we had collaborative events with the Chaplaincy or ASAP [Action for Sexual Assault Prevention] or other organizations … We’re also starting programming with the FIRST Center coming up,” Kapral said.