Sex In the Dark Event
As the Health and Wellness Center begins to reclaim its status as a ‘programming powerhouse’ on campus, student programmer, Shruthi Chandrasekar’23, stepped forward to tackle an iconic Beloit College event — Sex In the Dark. On Fri. April 9, Chandrasekar revived the event, hosting a number of panelists with a wealth of information regarding sexual health. Panelists included Tara Girard, Director of the Health and Wellness Center, Aryssa Harris’21 of Students for an Inclusive Campus (SIC), and Lincoln Budasi’21 on behalf of Sexual Health and Reproductive Choice Coalition (SHARCC).
In an email, Chandrasekar shared a bit of information about Sex In the Dark with the Round Table prior to the event.
“Sex in the Dark is a Health and Wellness Event, where panelists will be answering students’ anonymous questions about various aspects of sexual and reproductive health including safe sex, contraception, reproductive anatomy, communication and consent, sexual behaviors, and relationships,” wrote Chandrasekar.
Furthermore, on the subject of why she was inspired to take initiative in planning the event, she stated that, “There seems to be a general disconnection [sic.] in terms of information and communication regarding safe sex practices, but most importantly the emotional and mental value of taking care of yourself.” In her email, Chandrasekar also touched on how important having an ‘inviting’ campus community is to her, and how she hopes that her Sex In the Dark event will help attain this.
The event was hosted via Zoom, which helped to increase anonymity among panelists and those who submitted questions. The event was not screen recorded, so as not to breach confidentiality. Questions were collected via a Google Form that was sent out through Stuboard a week prior to the event. Throughout the event, Chandrasekar and the three panelists answered the anonymous questions and even took live questions from the six attendees. A plethora of topics were discussed, including some of the following: communication, consent, sexual expression, sexual boundaries, shaming, hookup culture, contraceptives and barrier protections, and STD testing. The questions often allowed Girard, Harris, and Budasi to remind attendees of what their organizations offer and how they can help with sexual health inquiries.
While Chandrasekar wrote to the Round Table that she had never attended any previous Sex In the Dark events, she was very determined to make sure that anonymity was preserved, and that students felt comfortable being involved in both the submission of questions and attending the event.
“My understanding is that this is the first time students are featured within the panel,” she wrote. Holding the event via Zoom increased the anonymity and is something that Chandrasekar has mentioned wanting to continue, even when gathering in person becomes safe again. “The hope is to facilitate this event at least once a semester moving forward,” she added. When facilitating the event in the future, Chandrasekar stated that she would prefer to tailor the discussion to specific needs of the campus community.
Contraceptives and barrier methods were discussed in depth during Sex In the Dark, and SHARCC and the Health and Wellness both offer these materials to students. SHARCC has assembled boxes of barrier methods (male and female condoms, dental dams) and settled them inside of dorm bathrooms for everyone to use. The Health and Wellness Center also distributes these things for free. Girard also emphasized that birth control is available through the Health and Wellness Center. A person who wishes to be prescribed birth control will need to schedule a visit with a nurse practitioner via the Health and Wellness Center. A few options that the HWC offers for birth control are: the pill, the patch, and the Depo-Provera shot. Girard also wants the campus community to be aware that the HWC does, in fact, offer pregnancy tests (these are free with Tara or nurse practitioner, Darcy).
Sex In the Dark was an educational event that everyone could take information away from. Chandrasekar carried this event out with sophistication, and invited a diverse group of panelists who all offered their own interesting perspectives on sexual health and maintaining healthy relationships with oneself and others. If students have any questions regarding sexual health, the Health and Wellness Center, SIC, and SHARCC are excellent resources, and during Sex In the Dark, made it very clear that they are more than willing to offer information and advice.