University | 7:22 pm | November 16, 2011 | By Gavan Gideon

Harvard plans Sex Week

Harvard Yard
Harvard Yard Photo by ChenSiYuan/Creative Commons.

While the future of Sex Week 2012 sits in jeopardy, students at Harvard are preparing for their own inaugural sex week program to take place in March.

Samantha Meier, a senior at Harvard and co-founder of the student organization behind the program — Sexual Health Education & Advocacy throughout Harvard College (SHEATH) — said in a Monday email to the News that Sex Week at Harvard is intended to address growing interest in issues of sex and sexuality among the Cambridge Ivy’s student body. Though a number of Harvard campus organizations currently deal with those types of issues, Meier said coordination of their efforts into one week of events “that deal with sex, sexuality, sexual health, sexual relationships, and the way we negotiate sexuality in our everyday lives” will help promote productive student discussion of such matters.

Abby Sun, a junior at Harvard and the other co-founder of SHEATH, said in the same email that she credits the “ground-breaking hard work of organizers of other Sex Weeks at schools, including Yale and Brown,” for making Harvard’s program possible, but added that SHEATH hopes to shape the program in a way that attends to the particular needs of the Harvard, Cambridge and Boston community.

“We are looking to put our own, Harvard-specific spin on Sex Week,” Sun said in a Monday email to the News. “As student organizers at Harvard, we see ourselves best able to address problems faced by members of the Harvard student community.”

As part of its efforts to address sexual misconduct at Yale, the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate recommended last week that Sex Week at Yale be prohibited from using Yale facilities or the Yale name, though University President Richard Levin said he is open to proposals from program organizers that may allow the program to continue. Sun said she recognizes the concerns expressed by Levin, but thinks it is important to focus on the “positive potential” programs like Yale’s offer.

“Exploration of issues such as sexual communication, enthusiastic consent, and self-reflection encourages a culture of healthy sexuality,” Sun said. “We believe that these conversations do not hinder health and wellness. We hope that Sex Week 2012 will be able to proceed at Yale so that these vital conversations can continue to occur.”

Meier said organizers have seen an “overwhelmingly positive response” by Harvard administrators to their plans.

Sex Week at Harvard will be an annual event, while Yale’s program, which is scheduled to take place Feb. 4-14, has been a biannual event since it was founded in 2002.

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