Pop music, dimmed lights, and a sea of neon glow sticks greeted students who attended Sex in the Dark last Thursday at Hoyt Auditorium.
Sex in the Dark was the fourth of the five events making up UR Sex Week and consisted of a panel of six professional “sexperts” who answered an hour-and-a-half’s worth of anonymously submitted questions about sex.
No topic was off limits, as the panelists answered questions about partner communication, coming out, self-pleasure, anal sex, and finding the “G” spot, to name a few.
“How do you cope with being a side bae?” was a crowd favorite.
Insightful and inclusive dialogue is what junior Sadya Ouedraogo hoped to cultivate when she created UR Sex Week last semester. The idea stemmed from an assignment for University Health Service Health Educator Amy Nadelen’s class, which required students to develop a program that addressed the needs of undergraduates.
“College is a time when many students decide to explore, and I felt that it was important to have updated information to match our age and curiosity,” said Ouedraogo.
For her assignment, Ouedraogo created a four-day-long pilot program with the hope that it would be incorporated into UHS’ annual Sex & Chocolate Fair.
After it ran successfully, UHS recruited Ouedraogo as a peer health advocate, and UR Sex Week was added to UHS’ annual program roster, allowing her to collaborate with UHS’ Health Promotion Office when planning future events.
“Currently eleven or twelve universities in the U.S. have a Sex Week. The University of Rochester would be the twelve or thirteenth in the nation to have such a program,” said Ouedraogo. “Though our program is different from other universities who have a bit of a more risque approach to the topic because our approach is heavily educational.”
Ouedraogo’s educational approach, is different from that of standard classroom sex-ed, but that’s part of the program’s appeal.
“What motivated me to participate and why I think it’s so important to have events like this on campus for students is that American sex education tends to focus on ‘how not to get pregnant,’ or ‘how not to get an STI,’ but there is very little emphasis on ‘this is your body, this is how it works,” said psychology lecturer Marie-Joelle Estrada.
According to Ouedraogo, the main theme of UR Sex Week was communication, which was echoed in many of the responses given by the panelists that evening.
“Why not be different and challenge the norm by communicating your intentions, preferences, or even questions to make things what you want them to be?” asked Ouedraogo.
Panelists, or “sexperts,” included Estrada, Director of Gender Health Services at the University of Rochester Medical Center Katherine Greenberg, UHS Family Nurse Practitioner Suzanne Bumpus, Prevention Education and Training Coordinator at Willow Domestic Violence Center Pam Graham, Assistant Dean of Students & Director at the Center for Student Conflict Management Kyle Orton, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at URMC John Cullen.