Safe sex and sexually transmitted infections are important topics on campus that many students are itching to talk about, but bringing them up in conversation often leads to discomfort. Peer health educators, who are students trained in specific aspects of student health, took to The Commons Main Street to teach facts they may not know about sex.
Sponsored by University Health Services, the peer health educators set up a trivia event. Condoms and candy littered the tables. At each trivia station, trivia questions were given that covered different topics such as contraceptives, healthy relationships and STIs. For each correct question, students would receive a condom taped to a popsicle stick, which they could trade in for prizes such as lip balm, beer cozies or t-shirts.
Hengameh Pourkarim, a senior biology major and print media minor, was one of the peer health educators helping with the event. Hengameh is on the sexual health committee, which is in charge of educating students about safe sex. “It’s definitely a very good, educational, fun way to teach and get people involved,” she said.
Being a peer educator, Hengameh has also learned a lot. “There’s a lot of stuff that I teach throughout my programs that before I was part of the peer health program I really didn’t know myself,” she said.
The trivia questions that were asked demonstrated just how much there is to learn about sex, running the gamut from simple to complicated. For instance, one question asked what non-consent could look like. Some possible answers were silence, saying no, or pushing someone away. Another question about contraceptives asked, “What are two types of emergency contraceptives?” Many students were quick to say the morning after pill. Fewer could guess that the copper IUD also acts as emergency contraception.
The stigma surrounding the discussion of sex contributes to students being uninformed. Kyle Briggs, a senior biology and economics double major who is also a peer health educator, feels that hosting fun events like sex trivia will help break through that stigma. “People can come out and have trivia and win prizes and not be so afraid to talk about stuff that everybody experiences but nobody wants to talk about,” he said.
Briggs sees firsthand the positive impact he has being a peer health educator.
He said, “even today someone pulled our director aside [and] said he was really happy we were doing stuff people don’t talk about but want to learn more about.”