Students accustomed to Exley Science Center’s annual transformation into a one-day Sexual Health Exposition—complete with workshops on birth control, sexual violence prevention, and an eight-foot tall replica of a penis—may be disappointed to learn that the upcoming February event will be taking place in a smaller, less centralized capacity.
On Oct. 2, Health Education Director Lisa Currie, who has played a major role in organizing the event since its beginning five years ago, will be relocating to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, leaving the Expo without its guiding force. Rather than undertake an event of equal magnitude without Currie’s leadership, WesWELL, the University’s Health Education Office, has decided to curtail the Expo during this time of flux.
The Peer Health Advocates (PHAs), students who help to coordinate the event, maintain that many of the event’s activities will still be available to students, just spread out over a longer time span.
“We plan to take elements of the Sexual Health Expo and elongate it throughout an entire month,” said Alyssa Bogdanow ’11. “So we’ll still do the workshops, still do our own tabling, but it won’t happen in the same capacity.”
Currie’s temporary replacement, whose name has yet to be announced, will be hired on a part-time basis, a role that will likely not be able to provide the same level of support as Currie’s full-time position. According to Currie, WesWELL will likely hire a full-time Health Education Office Director in the spring, but it remains unknown whether the Sexual Health Expo will return to its original form in February of 2011.
“We’re really not thinking that long term,” Bogdanow said. “We’re thinking more in terms of what we need to do this year to keep the tradition alive and not close any doors.”
While students may worry that the Sexual Health Expo is facing dramatic changes, Currie pointed out that it has in fact been constantly transforming since its foundation.
“[The Sexual Health Exposition] has grown over the last five years to be a really positive event,” she said. “We decided that we wanted to expand the focus beyond just protection in terms of sexual health and really be much more encompassing.”
WesWELL held the first Sexual Health Expo in 2004, originally calling the event the Protection Fair. Although it initially focused solely on disease and pregnancy prevention, it soon expanded to include workshops and informational booths on other aspects of sexual health, as well.
“While it’s a fun, sex-positive atmosphere, it still encourages students to make positive choices and gives them the resources to do it without being preachy, without being in your face about it, while still being fun and accessible,” Currie said.
Some keystones of last year’s exhibition included “Talk To Me Baby,” a workshop on consent and issues of sexual violence, a “Sex Signs” workshop put on by Sign House, and a Sexual Health Art Show.
“I think if it weren’t for my transition out, [the Sexual Health Expo] would be bigger and better than ever this year,” Currie said. “It will just have to go dormant for a year to accommodate that transition.”
The PHAs still remain confident that this year’s event will be informative for students.
“It will be a new, but still awesome, Sexual Health Expo,” said PHA Team Leader Heather Stanton ’10.
Although this may be her last week at WesWELL, Currie offered a few words of wisdom to students.
“I’ve always said Wesleyan is a very sex-positive campus and I think that’s a fantastic thing,” she said. “But at the same time, if things become so over-sexualized that people are ignoring some of the basic things like using protection and getting regular testing, then they’re really hurting themselves, and potentially hurting their partners, as well.”