Agnes Enkhtamir

Sex and Sexuality Week — previously known as Sex Week — returned to campus after a two-year hiatus. The 18 events over the course of the week focused on topics ranging from relationships to sex toys to help foster a more positive sexual climate on campus.

This year’s Sex and Sexuality Week aimed to “promote a sex-positive, safe and inclusive space for many kinds of intimacy, sex, love and relationships,” according to the program’s mission statement. Events began on Oct. 26 and conclude today and include a workshop on safe sex, a Master’s tea on gender identity and an art-making discussion about Asian-American sexuality. Greek organizations, the Black Student Alliance at Yale, the Asian American Cultural Center and the Women’s Center were among the groups that co-sponsored the week’s activities. Organizers and participants interviewed cited the diversity, intersectionality and specificity of Sex and Sexuality Week events as a well-conceived platform for continued conversation.

“We have clubs, publications and advocacy groups on campus that are capable of creatively grappling with these topics,” said Katherine Fang ’17, executive director of Sex and Sexuality Week. “They were able to put together events that took seriously the cultural context — how this society views and shapes gender, faith, race and so much more — in which sex and sexuality is forged and continues to exist.”

Eliza Scruton ’17, who staffed Sex and Sexuality Week, said that the past week of events served an educational purpose as well, especially in broadening students’ understandings of sexuality and providing information about the resources available on campus. Two such examples, Scruton said, included a Title IX trivia night and a table set up in the Commons Rotunda during lunch promoting STI testing at Yale Health. Scruton added that she found the intimate discussions among her peers to be some of her favorite events from the past week, as they encouraged attendees to share experiences from their personal lives in a safe, open and judgment-free environment.

Chloe Yee ’18 highlighted the extensive collaborations between various groups on campus as one of the past week’s hallmarks.

“There was a place for just about everyone in Sex and Sexuality Week,” Yee said. “Religious groups helped sponsor a workshop on relationships and faith at Yale, Greek organizations sponsored our STI testing party and cultural groups helped run discussions on race, ethnicity, culture and sexuality.”

“Desire, Beauty and the Asian Body” — a discussion held at the AACC on Saturday afternoon — was one such event led by Isra Syed ’16 and Hiral Doshi ’17, the AACC’s program series co-coordinators. Doshi said the AACC was asked to collaborate with Sex and Sexuality Week to help bring more diverse and cultural perspectives to the conversation in collaboration with the other cultural centers. Doshi added that Asian Americans often experience cases of hypersexualization and desexualization on campus. In addition, many Asians have internalized the belief that their ethnicity is not as beautiful as the mainstream white identity, Doshi said.

Syed added the role that power plays in the particular experiences of different cultures has not been seriously considered in the past. To help Asian-American students better navigate the sexual climate on campus, Syed said she believes it is important to bring marginalized groups to the fore. She cited the availability of spaces like the cultural centers for these group-specific discussions as a key reason for the past week’s success.

Scruton also emphasized the nontraditional perspectives introduced at workshops such as “The Safest Sex: Sex Toys and Masturbation.” Growing up, many students receive formal sexual education, Scruton said, but not that many learn about sexual pleasure and how to achieve it.

Fang said one week of programming is not enough to capture all approaches students take to sex and sexuality. Still, she and other organizers are hopeful that the past week will spark further discussions and developments on campus.

“Despite the ugly truths that we prefer to turn a blind eye toward, there is much need for improvement in our sexual climate on campus,” Yee said.

The last Sex and Sexuality Week 2015 event is the STI Testing Party from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at Yale Health, where clinicians will provide free STI testing and consultation.