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The Scarlet & Black

Bringing Sex Week back

Leah Johnson ’19 is hosting a bagel breakfast event called Bae Goals as part of the College’s upcoming Sex Week. Photo by Liz Paik.

By Eva Hill

This coming Sunday will mark the beginning of Grinnell College’s second-ever Sex Week. The week will feature events that range from free STI testing (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the second-floor lobby of the JRC; anyone who gets tested gets a cup of hot chocolate or hot cider) to an “I Love Sex Data” Pub Quiz night, which is presented in collaboration with I Love Data Week, an event occurring over the same week.

Many organizations are coming together to put on various events, including the Title IX Office, the Peer Educator Program, the Body Positive Club, Student Health and Counseling Services (SHACS), the Asexual Support Network, Grinnell Advocates, the Sexual Health Information Center, Student Wellness, the Student Athlete Mentor program and Residence Life.

Emily Howe, Grinnell post-baccalaureate for sexual respect and harm reduction, explained the origin of Sex Week. The first Sex Week began with the introduction of an on-campus STI testing day, a necessary resource after the city of Grinnell’s testing clinic shut down due to funding issues.

“Deb Shill [director of health services at the College] … invited us to help promote [the STI testing day], and in thinking about how to promote that, we started wondering, well, what would be good at getting students excited? And in talking with students and working with various different student groups, we decided creating a bunch of different events and calling it Sex Week — we thought a lot about the name, and we ended up with Sex Week — would be really good,” said Howe.

Last year’s week was a success, with high turnout across all events, which led to the renewal of Sex Week this year. Leah Johnson ’19 will be running the kickoff event of the week: “Bae Goals,” a bagel breakfast in JRC 209 at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 10.

“[People] will have the chance to make valentines for their friends, because it’s the week of Valentine’s Day, and also to have conversations with people about healthy relationships and about what people’s ‘bae goals’ are,” Johnson said.

Johnson explained that she had run a similar program last year as a community advisor for Norris, and that she’d seen positive results with students having good conversations about communication, consent and relationship dynamics.

Gwen Holtzman ’19, who is also involved with the planning and program administration for the event, emphasized the importance of inclusion within this year’s set of events.

“Everyone, when they hear the word ‘sex’, probably thinks of a slightly different thing, and we really want to include all of those things, so no one person is like, ‘well, nothing there applies to me,’ or ‘I’m in this situation and therefore I feel left out,’ because, definitely, I think sex can be that umbrella term that includes everything,” she said.

One of the last Sex Week events will be “Breakup Gardner” on Friday, Feb. 15, another event intended to cover topics not always discussed in conventional relationship education. “Break-up songs are great, but also, sometimes at Valentine’s Day there’s a lot of focus on relationships, but what if you’re not in a relationship, or what if you’re not technically dating someone? But then also, wearing my sex and sexuality educator hat, I don’t think we talk enough about breakups, and how you break up. We talk about what’s a healthy relationship and what’s an unhealthy relationship, but what do you do if you want to get out of a relationship? How can you do that in a healthy way?” Howe said.

Sex Week events will take place every day from Sunday, Feb. 10, to Saturday, Feb. 16.

Leah Johnson ’19 is hosting a bagel breakfast event called Bae Goals as part of the College’s upcoming Sex Week. Photo by Liz Paik.
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