This week marks the second annual installment of the on-campus, student-operated, sexual education week at Bates. Sex Week was introduced to the student body last year as Maddy Ekey ‘17 felt the need to create a sort of forum in which a dialogue surrounding safe and healthy sex could be fostered. Similar to last year’s events, Sex Week 2016, organized by Maddy Ekey ‘17 and Jessica Garson ‘17, is an opportunity for students on campus to attend lectures, workshops, and events that work to educate the Bates public about how to enjoy sexual interactions in a safe and healthy way.

In coordination with various groups and organizations across campus, such as the Bates Public Health Initiative, Sex Week contains a week’s worth of events that are meant to “sex, sex positivity and sexual health with the hope of fostering an inclusionary dialogue across Bates’ campus”, according to Ekey.

Both Ekey and Garson both believe that including a sexual education week on campus is pertinent to solving problems stemming from unsafe or unhealthy sex that are inevitable on a college campus. Issues surrounding safe sex, such as the use of contraceptives and practicing responsible sexual relations are only the beginning of what Sex Week aims to address.

“We don’t talk enough about sex on campus in a positive way” and that the ultimate goal of Sex Week is to “educate students on ways to have healthy sex both mentally and physically”, says Garson.

This being the case, Sex Week 2016 does not only provide workshops and lectures surrounding how to have safe sex physically, but also provides opportunities for students to understand how they can have healthy sexual relationships mentally. Both Ekey and Garson believe that this is something heavily overlooked on college campuses where hook-up culture constitutes a majority of sexual activity between students.

Clubs and organizations are contributing to this year’s week of events. For example, the Multifaith Chaplaincy is addressing the issue of spirituality in practicing healthy sex, which is something that may be overlooked by students on a college campus. Ekey and Garson recognize the need to facilitate an engaging conversation surrounding safe and healthy sex, and as a result, many of the events that comprise this year’s Sex Week work to appeal to more students. For example, on Friday there will be a “sex trivia” event in 280 Basement which offers alcohol for students 21 or over. In addition, Sex Week will address the deeply ingrained issue of sexual consent with a lecture taking place at Commons 222 on Thursday at 1 PM, titled “Communication, Consent, & Power”.

As Ekey and Garson will be passing the torch regarding the organizing of Sex Week to other students next year, they hope to inspire students on campus to engage each other in conversations surrounding healthy and safe sex not only during this week, but during students’ careers at Bates. For more information about this year’s Sex Week, please refer to Bates Sex Week 2016 Facebook page, or the Bates Today announcements throughout the week.