Throughout the last few months, I’ve sent nearly a hundred emails that state my name and that I am putting on a week of programming called “Sex Week.” Some responses are jovial, others concerned, but overall our community received Sex Week better than I initially expected. Before next week officially begins, I want to clarify exactly what Sex Week is and, more importantly, what it is not.
Before clarifying, I must explain where this project comes from and how the programming aims to impact the Xavier community. Each year, a group of seniors are nominated to be Arrupe Leaders, a group of graduating leaders from across campus. As a part of this group, individuals create legacy projects about their leadership. Some examples are this week’s #QueerFaithXU, Muskie Tigers’ Home Is Where the Heart Is program and last spring’s She Can, She Will project.
Sex Week takes on an aggressive agenda to help push the conversation about sexual health, relationships and consent forward on what people consider to be a conservative Catholic campus. The programming will cover what we might have missed in sex-ed class: consent culture, sexual health rights and resources, sex expectations in the LGBTQIA+ community and more. Education remains at the center of this project. I want to answer questions about these topics with care, consideration and truth.
In our own community, I have partnered with LGBTQIA+ Alliance, XU College Democrats, Xavier Students Against Sexual Assault (XSASA), BRAVE Peer Educators, Delta Sigma Phi Executive Board, Student Wellbeing Team and Student Government Association (SGA). Beyond the Xavier bubble, I’ve partnered with Planned Parenthood, Pregnancy Center East, TriHealth, Crossroad Medical Center and Caracole for information and direction with this project.
I am not conducting this project on my own, and the answers, advice and information are not my opinion. Sexual health questions are answered with resources from medical professionals. Consent culture questions are answered with help from Xavier’s Title IX Program Director, XSASA and BRAVE. Sex Week continues to be my passion, but I am not the expert on any of the topics, and I am only able to put on Sex Week with the help and expertise of others.
Now that we’ve covered what Sex Week is, below is what it is not.
Sex Week does not aim to attack the university for not providing condoms and dental dams or other contraceptives to students, nor does Sex Week intend to promote any one healthcare provider over any other. Sex Week is not a vehicle to bring Planned Parenthood to campus. Most certainly, this project does not count as a visit with a medical professional (although people should see their doctors once a year and be honest about their sexual history and health).
Sex Week is not a week to promote sexual relations, but if that happens, it’s totally normal and not weird to discuss. Sex Week is apolitical. The week aims to educate, not indoctrinate with any sort of political philosophy.
Sex Week comes as a challenge. I want to challenge Xavier to open its mind to conversations it has long been ignoring. I want to challenge our community and friends to have conversations we usually have behind closed doors out in the open — in Gallagher, in the classroom and beyond.
Many of the topics discussed during Sex Week have or will impact you or someone you know, so why not have these conversations here on campus? Why not have these conversations while we have access to dozens of resources and community support?
Sex Week is a challenge to our community and ourselves to take our conversations out of the box. If we are not comfortable with the conversations about sexual health, consent or our sexual experiences and expectations now, we’ll never be comfortable. That only inhibits ourselves and others going forward.
Ellen Rakowski is a first-year Private Interest and the Public Good master’s student. She is the principal organizer of Sex Week.