By Emilie Berman
Walking around campus, some University of Maryland students might have been wondering about the bright, eye-catching “Sex Week” posters plastered on McKeldin Mall and in academic buildings. Despite what they might have believed, the posters were more than just another excuse for students to get down and dirty.
Run by the University Health Center from the Oct. 15 to 18, Sex Week included events and activities hoping to educate the student body on sexual health and wellness, and raise awareness for issues like sexual safety.
University of Maryland Sexual Health and Reproductive Education (SHARE) Peer Educator Jillian Clark said the motto of the first ever sex week at Maryland was “education, communication, exploration.” In coordination with the health center, student groups, organizations from the Washington, D.C. area and professionals in the sexual health field ran educational events focusing on sexual health and wellness throughout the week.
Sex Week kicked off with a health fair on Hornbake Plaza, which included free sexual resources like condoms, games and even a Sex Week photo booth.
Throughout the week, events covered a variety of topics, from language in the bedroom and sex therapy to LGBTQ acceptance in the College Park community. In addition to the educational events, students could also participate in meditation sessions, and free HIV and other STI screenings.
Among the most provocative events was “Toy Talk for Grown Folks,” where sex expert Jessica VonDyke discussed the adult sex toy industry.
VonDyke, owner of a Washington, D.C. sexual resource center called The Garden, said her main goal was to “educate consumers in the field who, for the most part, don’t want to talk about it much less take the time to make an educated decision about sex toys.”
While the nature of Sex Week might have seemed controversial, freshman broadcast journalism and criminology and criminal justice major Aleka Lampru saw the events as beneficial.
“If you have a question regarding sexual activity and the repercussions of taking part in such actions, there should be an opportunity for you to get answers without being judged,” she said.
Angelica Rego, an intern for SHARE, agreed, adding that most students starting college fresh out of high school “have not had the chance to explore sexuality in their own ways,” and Sex Week is one way the health center is “trying to create a campus where students can communicate and feel comfortable getting the sexual health information that they are looking for.”