As the leaves change to autumnal shades and Western students settle into their abodes, classes and social scene, soon the halls will be filled with budding college romance.
First comes love, then comes—awkward fumbling in the dark?
But, before any Western students get into some potentially sticky situations, they might want to know their on-campus sexual resources.
Whether, attracted to the same sex, opposite sex, both or anyone between; whether abstinent, sexually active or wishing they were, Western students may have an office on campus that can address their needs regarding sexuality.
Western has both resources and clubs that deal with sexuality including clinical services, sex education, sexual assault support services, sexual and gender diversity groups and political action.
The Student Health Center, located in the Campus Services building in South Campus, provides HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) testing for Western students. The Self-Care Center, located next to the Student Health Center, provides half-hour counseling sessions for students who get tested, according to Catherine Vader, coordinator at the Self-Care Center.
“It's a great way to get information about your risks and behaviors,” said Vader, who is also supervisor of the HIV testers, and peer sexual health educators.
The HIV testers, a trained group of five students through the Lifestyle Advisor Program, a division of Prevention and Wellness Services, provides one-on-one counseling for Western students who are getting an HIV test, Vader said.
The testers talk to the student about risk behaviors and realistic ways to reduce the risk of acquiring STIs, Vader said. After the session, students get their blood drawn by the Student Health Center, and return a week later for a post-test consultation where the student can ask any further questions before and after they receive their results, Vader said.
Peer sexual health educators, also known as PSHEs—pronounced “Puh-shays”—are group of nine Western students who provide half-hour sessions for students with STI test appointments, and for Western women who receive their first pap smear or annual exam, Vader said.
In their sessions, they provide students with information about STIs—including which ones are most prevalent on campus, how to decrease their risk at acquiring an STI, how to talk to partners about sexual history and how to use a condom correctly, she said.
According to a survey conducted with each session, more than 80% of students said they would come back to the sessions and 90% of students surveyed said they found the session worthwhile, Vader said.
Prevention and Wellness Services also provides support for people affected by violence through Crime and Sexual Assault Support Services (CASAS), Women's Empowerment and Violence Education (WEAVE) and Men's Violence Prevention Project (MVPP).
“CASAS is a 24-hour hotline for Western Students affected by any type of violence during any part of their lives,” said Devlin O'Donnell. O'Donnell is both coordinator of CASAS and advisor for WEAVE.
CASAS also provides a quarterly support group called Women Supporting Women and is in the process of scheduling the group for this quarter, O'Donnell said.
WEAVE is a student group that provides programs and events for women's empowerment and to encourage communication between genders, she said.
Another student-run resource is the Associated Students Resource and Outreach Programs (ROP).
The ROP located on the fifth floor of the Viking Union, houses the Sexual Awareness Center (SAC) and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance (LGBTA), among other offices.
The SAC provides free condoms, lube, dental dams, library resources, confidential consultation, and referrals, SAC coordinator and Western sophomore Janette Casolary said.
This year the office wants to open dialogue between students of all types of sexualities and sexual life styles, including abstinence, said Cassie Gendlek, the SAC assistant coordinator and Western fifth year senior.
“We support you in any choice you make,” Casolary said. “We just want that to be an informed choice.”
Just up the hall from the SAC is the LGBTA, one of Western's resources for queer issues. The LGBTA provides programming, library resources, confidential consultation and referrals about sexuality and gender identity coordinator Melissa Derry said. The LGBTA will hold their annual Ice Cream Social Oct. 9, Derry, a Fairhaven student, said.
For more information about prices of Student Health Center Services contact the Student Health Center check out http://wwu.edu/chw/student_health/ for more information on AS clubs and organizations check out the AS website http://as.wwu.edu and for more information about PWS check out the web site at http://wwu.edu/chw/preventionandwellness/.