Olena Rypich/The AS Review
Where on campus can you find free condoms, lubricant, a variety of other safe-sex supplies and literature on a wide spectrum of sexual issues? The Associated Students Sexual Awareness Center, located in Viking Union 515, a safe space where peers are willing to listen, advise, provide support and lead discussions on sexuality.
The center is hosting a welcoming event at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12 in VU 565. The event will also have representatives from Western’s Crime and Sexual Assault Support, Women’s Empowerment and Education, Planned Parenthood and the Whatcom Pregnancy Clinic.
SAC Coordinator Shawna Leader said the center offers a confidential and non-judgmental space for people to come and talk, use resources and ask questions or for advice.
“We also offer a safe space for people who just want to hang out and have discussions or relax,” Leader said.
Leader said she is working with SAC Assistant Coordinator Alyssa Piraino to extend the center’s services to more students and include alternative sexual choices in their discussions and events such as abstinence, something that wasn’t typically addressed in a place like the Sexual Awareness Center.
“We just think that abstinence is a topic and a sexuality, not a lack thereof. It’s a form of sexuality,” Piraino said.
If students prefer, they can speak to the staff confidentially. Located outside the office is a question board, where students can anonymously submit their questions about sex, relationships, identity or something that they feel they could not discuss in person and do not want to post on the Internet, Leader said.
In addition, a question box will be placed at all the center’s events, and answers to the questions left in the box will be posted outside the SAC office, Leader said.
“If it’s a technical question, we will research it, or if it’s seeking outside resources, like where STI testing is done, we will list those resources,” Leader said.
The staff has already planned a series of events for the community. Students are encouraged to start thinking about submissions for the popular Condom Fashion Show, happening in May, where aspiring designers make eccentric outfits out of expired condoms. Students can also sign up to entertain at the event.
The staff’s goal is to help students understand that the Sexual Awareness Center is not limited to handing out condoms.
“We’re really trying to reach out more to people who may not be necessarily comfortable talking about sex, but still want to find answers to their questions and want to feel comfortable asking those questions,” Leader said. “We’re not just targeting ‘sex-positive’ people, but everyone else who wants to know things or use our resources.”