A Fistful of Condoms: Safer Sex Week Returns to Campus

From putting condoms on bananas to high school lessons on birth control, the benefits of safe sex have been made explicitly clear. For many, though, the message has been lost in awkward middle school video presentations. Youngstown State University is once again setting out to reteach this classic message in new and entertaining ways through their annual Safer Sex Week.

Taking place Sept. 14-19, Safer Sex Week is a week of learning for YSU students, both on and off campus. YSU will attempt to engage students with an assortment of events that try to impart essential information on safer sex.

One of the most popular events is the resource fair that was held on Monday in the Chestnut Room in Kilcawley Center.

In addition to offering students the necessary resources to lead a safe sex life — from pamphlets to colored condoms — Jason Ottley, a nationally circulating relationship expert, will also speak about building healthy college relationships.

In addition to the resource fair, programs such as Going Down in the Elevators use provocative and eye-catching names to attract the attention of students, while trying to provide pertinent information.

Macey Nortey, a YSU graduate student who is coordinating Safer Sex week along with three other grad students, said the Going Down program takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and students will take a ride in the elevators in all the residence halls. As the elevator travels to the bottom, students will receive safe sex facts.

“We do it in all the residence halls three nights out of the week,” Nortey said. “Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for an hour we’ll go down in the elevators giving sex facts and poke fun at the idea of going down in the elevators.”

YSU residents are also able to participate in event creation by contacting their RA, who is in contact with the graduate students in the residence office.

“Our residential assistants that are in each residential building, they usually get feedback from their residents that go through each program. We get a lot of feedback from our RAs,” Nortey said.

The university works in tandem with the graduate students to approve and orchestrate the various events throughout the week. Jacob Stanley, the assistant director of housing for residential education and development, is in charge of approving any of the proposed ideas that come from the graduate students in the residence office.

Stanley, along with other YSU employees, essentially act as quality control to make sure the events successfully relay their message.

“If there are red flags that pop up in my head, then we will definitely look at it a little deeper,” Stanley said. “Is it worth it, or are we doing it because it sounds cute? What information are the students going to get out of it? What is the value of the program?”

He said the university has been accepting of the proposed events.

“I don’t think they ever told us no to a program. I know there are programs in the past that weren’t really a big deal but they lost their value or got old and we try to do other things,” Stanley said. “My director and the university and the offices we collaborate with have always been very supportive.”

Stanley added that Safer Sex Week is all about the students and providing them with options and education, not about pushing a certain life style or agenda.

“We’re not trying to push any kind of certain agenda,” Stanley said. “The programs we’ve had the past couple of years have been about getting good information out to the students. Get good resources out there to them so they know what’s going on, they know where to go if they have questions and how they can be a better responsible person while they are here at Youngstown State.”