Eckerd recently concluded a week-long series of CPS events dedicated to sexual identity and health, titled Great Sexpectations. The series responded to a need on campus for access to resources pertaining to sexual health. The events also discussed important sexual topics and helped educate students about sexual health, which is needed in a college setting. While the events were necessary and highly successful, education on topics of sexual health shouldn’t end with the conclusion of Great Sexpectations. Sexual health and awareness should be a continual discussion on campus among students and faculty.
This is the first year Eckerd has held the Great Sexpectations college program series. The sex-centered series included many different events for students, including dildo raffles, sex talks, a sexual health fair, free STI screening and plaster casting of a body part of your choice.
According to Director of the Office for Advocacy and Gender Justice and Associate Chaplain Libby Shannon, the Great Sexpectations series was created when the sexual health event, usually held during autumn term, had to be rescheduled for fall term. The Health Center on campus had also noticed the alarming rise of the rate of STIs at Eckerd.
Instead of devoting one college program series event to sexual health, there would be a whole week of events centered around the topic. The weeklong series raised awareness for the importance of sexual health, a critical topic on a college campus.
Shannon explained that student attendance and engagement for the Great Sexpectations events exceeded expectations. Not only did many events fill up completely, but students also participated in the process of planning and publicizing them.
“There were some events that were huge, just overwhelming in terms of their attendance. There were events that were a little smaller but really thoughtful and engaged. There were events that drew students from all different corners of campus,” Shannon said.
According to Shannon, the first program of the week, “I Heart Female Orgasm,” filled Fox Hall to capacity. During the free STI testing, approximately 300 students were tested, some students waiting over an hour in line. Due to the need for more free testing on campus, the health department will be returning to Eckerd on Oct. 31 to offer more free screening.
Many students found the Great Sexpectations series to be highly informative and helpful. Students were not only given access to free STI testing, but also access to a variety of contraceptive resources.
“I think that an entire semester of freshman year high school sex-ed class wasn’t as helpful as an hour-long lecture,” first-year William Stiffler said.
Events were designed to not only be informative, but to also be fun and engaging for the students who attended. Many events included free food, such as “Dildos and Donuts” and “Bodies and Bagels.” Other events included speakers who went out of their way to engage with the audience. Engagement with the audience made the events more memorable and fun, which made the topics more comfortable and easier to understand.
According to Shannon, both students and faculty members agree that there is a need to be able to comfortably discuss topics of sexual health and identity. Students need access to resources like STI testing and free prophylactics. Communicating about a topic like sexual identity can erase stigma and make people more comfortable with their own sexuality and identity.
“Of course they were a little more traditionally vulgar topics, but they were things that needed to be said, and they should be vulgar. And that kind of de-stigmatization, and presenting them in a comfortable atmosphere was really helpful,” Stiffler said.
According to Shannon, Great Sexpectations was met with no opposition during its conception. Instead, there was a consensus that it met a certain need for education and resources on campus.
“Widely across campus, among students, among administrators, there is a recognition that this is an important part of the educating we do here,” Shannon said.
The overwhelming success of the Great Sexpectations events series makes it likely to return next year. Many students who attended events want to see the series become a recurring event each year. A yearly recurrence of the series would be a beneficial edition to Eckerd tradition, as new and incoming students would receive necessary access to resources and information pertaining to sexual health on campus.