On Friday, April 21, the Student Alliance for Sexual Health (SASH) produced their biggest Sex Carnival to date. For eight consecutive semesters, the Sex Carnival has brought easily accessible sex education to University of Maine students through fun activities and the enthusiasm of their peers.
In this year’s expansion, the festivities were spread throughout the Bangor Room, Lown Room and Totman Lounge of the Memorial Union. This additional space permitted SASH to add more activities, like “porn pong,” and invite like-minded representatives from off-campus organizations who conduct community outreach.
With the help of over 25 volunteers, the carnival was able to include many of their most popular activities, such as their condom race challenge, and 12 information tables discussing a variety of topics from masturbation to menstruation.
Fourth-year anthropology student Kirsten Daley has worked with SASH since their first Sex Carnival. She focuses on educating students about less conventional aspects of sexual health, and hopes to make people feel comfortable with safely exploring their sexuality.
“I was a part of the Feminist Collective when SASH was formed to bring stronger sex education to campus,” Daley said. “We have a lot of students whose sex education was limited to topics like STDs. I table about BDSM because it is just as important to having healthy, fun, and safe sex.”
This year, the Sex Carnival devoted an entire room to integrating their education with that of local organizations who focus on reproductive and sexual health as well as domestic violence and abuse in the greater Orono area.
Representatives from the Mabel Wadsworth Center and Planned Parenthood presented students with information on their services as well as birth control, abortion and emergency contraception. Partners for Peace, formerly known as Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance, tabled to discuss domestic violence and healthy relationships, and give students information on how to get help for themselves or others.
Amy Bernier, a third-year child development and family relations student, spent her Friday evening tabling with Partners for Peace and discussed why it is important to have events like the Sex Carnival on campus.
“We are here to give people a stronger understanding of our organization, answer questions, and get the conversation started about domestic violence on campus,” Bernier said. “Violence is so prevalent, and affects so many people in different ways. Getting men and women involved in the conversation is important.”
Partners for Peace also offered interested students information on their work-study program and how to become a volunteer or intern.
“My interest in domestic violence education comes from a desire to open the conversation in the community. Partners for Peace has given me a way to give hands-on help and direct service,” Bernier said.
To this day, there are no federal laws to dictate sex education and only 13 states require sex education to be medically accurate. SASH, along with the organizations represented at the Sex Carnival, hopes to de-stigmatize the conversation surrounding sex and sex education, and supply factual information to students across campus. The next Sex Carnival will be held during fall 2018.