In a joint effort to welcome in the new school year and promote healthy sexual expressions, gender equity and sexual health, the Assosciated Students Women’s Center and Sexual Awareness Center will be hosting the Connections and Expressions kickoff event on Monday, Oct. 24 in Viking Union 565 at 7 p.m.
The Connections and Expressions event will consist of two distinct parts. The first hour will be focused on “Connections.”
Attendees with be able to network and connect with 14 different organizations and clubs, from both on and off campus. Among these will include the Roller Betties, Bellingham’s all-female roller derby team, The Vagina Club and the WWU Meditation Club, which will host a meditation session during the event.
“We invited organizations focused on gender, sexuality, feminism and sexual health,” said SAC Coordinator Morgan Jade. “There’s quite a variety of wonderful organizations.”
Following the connections portion, student volunteers will be able to share spoken-word performances. This “Expressions” part of the event will focus on issues of gender, identity and sexuality. Senior Brittany Thornton plans to speak at the event and will discuss body image acceptance amongst women.
“I think that the event is an important platform for women to really stand up and talk about the things that interest them and the things that are important to them,” Thornton said. “The spoken-word part is our chance to get across a message that is really important to us as women.”
Although they are two seperate entities within the AS Resource and Outreach Programs, this year the two offices decided to combined their beginning of the year kickoff events. Sasha Parsley, the Women’s Center assistant coordinator, said that while the two offices have seperate missions, they both deal with sexuality.
“I think all of the stuff we do is really tied together,” Parsley said. “We just focus more on the empowerment of women and the intersections of identity when it comes to feminism, while they focus more on sexual health and sexual expressions.”
Located in VU 514, the Women’s Center seeks to provide educational resources, programming and support in order to share ideas and raise awarness of women’s issues, gender equity and feminism.
Parsley said that a goal of the event is to articulate the vision of the Women’s Center for this year, much of which pertains to the empowerment of women and feminism.
She said that the Women’s Center will take a multi-faceted approach to these issues, ranging from promoting healthy masculine expression to awarness of homophobia, transphobia and the issues faced by women of color.
“We all have these multi-faceted layers of identity and who we are,” Parsley said. “We hope to create a safe space where people can feel comfortable expressing that and having that out in the open.”
The SAC, located in VU 518, provides students with resources to inform and promote healthy sexual expressions and behaviors. They offer an extensive resource library and also provide safe sex supplies for students.
Jade said tthe SAC seeks to empower students to make informed desicions regarding sexual health.
“We are non-judgmental,” Jade said. “We’re supportive of everyone’s different sexual attitudes and behaviors. We’re not going to tell someone what they should do; we’re going to hope to give them the tools to make informed choices.”
The WOmen’s Center and the SAC plan to collaborate on events in the future. On Thursay, Oct. 27, they will host the “Erotic Poetry Night” at the Underground Coffeehouse. Students wishing to perform at the event can email the SAC at firstname.lastname@example.org to get their poetry approved.
“We’re asking for spoken word focused on love,” Jade said. “We’re just really excited about people expressing themselves and expressing their sexuality in a healthy way.”
Both Parsley and Jade said they hope the Connections and Expressions event will excite people and make them aware of the resources both offices offer.
“We’re not just a program planning office, and this is the same for the Sexual Awareness Center,” Parsley said. “We’re here as a safe space that when students need to come to talk, get support, cry, laugh, do homework, whatever it may be, our office is here for that and so is the Sexual Awareness Center.”