On Monday, Sept. 24, The University of Maine’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC) along with the Student Alliance for Sexual Health held their second Sex In College event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event aimed to give students a platform to ask questions about sex and relationships, as well as become familiar with the WRC’s services.
Hosted by Julia Haberstick, a fourth-year women’s gender and sexuality studies student, the WRC’s event welcomed students, offered snow cones, coloring pages and information on sexual health.
“This event was aimed at first-years,” Haberstick said. “We’re adamant on getting our name out there, letting students know what resources we have to offer. We wanted to host a welcoming event to all the first-years (and others) who may have questions regarding sexual or reproductive health.”
While the WRC aims to create a space where students can feel free to openly discuss sexual interests and issues, they are painfully aware of the stigma surrounding the topic of sex. To combat this, the event offered students a way to ask their questions anonymously.
“It can be awkward or intimidating asking questions regarding sexuality because there is a sense that because our culture is so sexualized, we should all have it figured out by now, but that’s simply not the case. Anonymity eliminates that fear of being judged or ridiculed,” Haberstick said.
Haberstick believes that high school sexual education doesn’t fully prepare students for college life. According to Planned Parenthood, many states only require abstinence education, and only 13 states require sex education to be medically accurate. Haberstick hopes the WRC’s efforts to educate will help minimize this stigma surrounding sex on campus.
“Our culture is saturated in sex, yet we don’t teach consent or pleasure and typically use scare tactics to prevent teens and students from being sexually active,” Haberstick said. “We know this doesn’t work, states with abstinence-only education have higher rates of STIs, unwanted or teenage pregnancy and abortion. We want students to know that everyone has questions, sex is normal and we’re here if you need us!”
To prepare for the event, and keep the WRC’s resources up-to-date, members are constantly gathering materials and checking statistics.
“I gathered information from sources like Planned Parenthood, Mabel Wadsworth and others to compile a broad array of topics I thought people might have questions or concerns about,” Haberstick said. “Information on contraceptives, healthy relationships, consent, abortion, gender and sexuality.”
For many students, fear isn’t the only thing inhibiting sexual wellness and security. Fiscal stability often comes into play, as menstrual products and contraceptives aren’t always inexpensive or easily accessible.
“These resources are basic to every student’s well-being. If folks are financially strained and can’t afford menstrual products or pregnancy tests, we’re here to provide them for free! Regardless of financial security, all students have the right to a safe and welcoming campus environment,” Haberstick said. “Worrying about your reproductive or sexual health can be exhausting and can really take away from a students ability to learn and engage in their academics.”
Students who are interested in asking anonymous questions haven’t missed their chance. The forum will stay open indefinitely and can be accessed here, or by scanning the QR code posted in the WRC. The answers will be published in their monthly newsletter, which you can sign up for through this link: https://goo.gl/forms/HLksxZnzAwJd0E0x1
Students can also stop by to read the newsletter in person at the WRC.
Located in Room 227 of the Memorial Union, across from the Rainbow Resource Center, the WRC is open every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by to talk with Haberstick or any of the center’s members about the project and learn what the WRC has to offer.