Parents send their offspring to college for educations. Kent State students are getting a few extra lessons this week — in sex education.
The university is spending about $17,000 on sex programs, guest speakers and events to educate students about everything from female orgasm to condoms to safe sex.
“Our goal is to give residence hall students a broad spectrum of information,” said Tallmadge senior Kyle Hovest, who is coordinating the student-led events for the Interhall Council, the governing body for about 4,500 residence hall students.
Hovest said the university has held Sex Weeks every year since the late 1990s. Programming has grown every year as KSU tries to help stem unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual violence.
Many other colleges and universities offer similar programs: Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago and the University of Kentucky are among those offering versions of Sex Week.
The University of Maryland held its first Sex Week this month with an “eco-friendly sex shop” — how to pick sex toys that don’t harm the environment.
Ohio University holds a monthlong Sex Week alternative, called Romance Responsibility, in February to tie in with Valentine’s Day.
“There’s information and skill-building and balancing everything out so that we’re dealing with the variety of issues,” said Charlene Kopchick, assistant dean of students for campus involvement.
One of the most popular programs is called “Latexology” — when to use condoms, how to put them on, etc.
“Do we still get comments and concerns from parents? Of course we do,” Kopchick said. “I tell them, ‘I can’t look at this as a values issue. I have to look at it as a public health issue.’?”
At Kent State, Sex Week programs offer something for just about every taste, from abstinence to safe sex to understanding sexually transmitted diseases, said Hovest, who is majoring in interpersonal communications.
This year’s program has a Hawaiian theme and the title Let’s Get Lei’d. Events have included the second annual Condom Couture Fashion Show.
The Interhall Council and student chapter of Face AIDS provided students with about 5,000 colored, nonlubricated condoms for clothing designs. Fashion merchandising junior Braisha Owens won on Monday with men’s and women’s bathing suits.
Sex Week’s “most taboo” program is tonight’s I Love Female Orgasm by sex educators Marshall Miller and Maggie Keenan-Bolger of the company Sex Discussed Here. Their website promises “funny, smart sex education programs” that “teach about what many students want to learn about.”
The program that gets the most traffic is the local drag queen show on Thursday, which is Halloween.
Upward of 800 students will turn out to see the flamboyant Danyel Vasquez, Brionna Brooks, Jessica Love and Erica Martinez.
“It’s not incredibly educational, but you can learn at a drag show,” Hovest said. “Even though they’re making jokes, they’re telling the truth. Drag queens aren’t afraid to talk sex.”
KSU students do not pay for admission to any of the Sex Week events except for the fashion show. It was a fundraiser for Face AIDS and cost $7 at the door.
The funds that support Sex Week come from students’ room and board fees, the university said.
The same fund also pays for other programs that help students move into dorms, learn etiquette and appreciate diverse cultures. Still, Sex Week might be the most popular event, Hovest said.
“If students learn one thing that they didn’t know before, then we’ve done our job,” he said. “Sex education doesn’t have to be the awkward class that you take in high school.”
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.