Who was the first couple to be shown in bed together on prime-time television?
What ancient civilization used olive oil for a little more than cooking?
These cheeky queries are but two of the many sex-inspired questions you might be asked this evening at Sex at the Sunset: Nacho Average Trivia Night, being held at Sunset Cantina. At the trivia night, sponsored by BU’s Student Health Ambassadors (SHAs)—the peer health and wellness educators trained by the Student Health Services Office of Wellness and Prevention—there will be giveaways and free nachos besides the trivia questions designed to promote sexual health.
Even if talking openly about sex makes you blush, Gabriella Lopes (SAR’14) and her team of SHAs say, they’ve designed tonight’s trivia event to be entertaining. “The trivia game will be in an open, fun, and interesting environment where students can feel comfortable talking about sexual health,” promises Lopes. “It’s not such an easy subject to talk about normally, but we feel this will be a fun way to learn about it. It’s trivia—not lectures and pamphlets. Students who come to the event will be learning about sexual health, but having fun at the same time.”
Previous programs aimed at educating students about sexual health have been popular, she says, pointing to last semester’s Sex in the Dark panel of sex experts answering students’ questions and last year’s sex-themed trivia event, both of which had full houses and generated positive feedback from students.
Statistics reinforce the importance of such learning opportunities for students. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that young people aged 15 to 24 comprise 27 percent of the sexually active population, but account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the United States each year.
“The SHS wellness office has really focused a lot more on sexual health in the last two years,” says wellness coordinator Katharine Mooney (SPH’12). “The Student Health Ambassadors have been instrumental in helping us roll out all of the programming we’ve been doing.”
BU Today spoke with Mooney about tonight’s trivia event, about what students know—and don’t know—about sexual health, and about the Student Health Ambassadors program.
BU Today: What can students expect at the Sex at the Sunset event?
Mooney: They can definitely expect it to be a fun time, just like a lot of the other programming we do. It’s certainly educational, but it’s also meant to be fun and interactive. Students will be divided into teams like you do often in Stump Trivia or other trivia nights. We will have sex swag available to students, and people will compete against one another. We’ll have music too, and Student Health Ambassadors will lead the trivia night.
We’ll be giving out items like condoms, other safer sex supplies, sex toys, and fun things like penis-shaped candy and those kinds of things.
Why is programming like this so important?
I think students come to college with a huge variation in sexual health knowledge. Some students come from school systems where they’ve had really comprehensive sex education or they’ve had parents who were really involved, so they’re really knowledgeable. But that’s not the case for every student. We understand that and want to provide more opportunities to learn about sexual health. Plus there are things like new recommendations or new products. So, there are opportunities to learn, even if you had great sex education in high school. It’s just a great way to put out accurate information and to test students on their knowledge of sexual health. They may know some information going in, and hopefully they’ll learn some new stuff too.
I think the reality is that there is still a lot of misinformation out there. Yes, there is a lot out there, but it’s not always accurate, and so we want to make sure we’re putting out accurate information.
Can you talk about the Student Health Ambassador program and what the volunteers do?
SHAs are a group of health-minded undergraduates. They apply to become ambassadors; it’s a competitive selection process, and there’s an interview. The current group chooses the incoming ambassadors—which is great—so there’s a lot of ownership of the group. They serve both as peer educators and as liaisons between Student Health Services and the student body. They have a hand in the programming we do, they’re a sounding board when we’re coming up with ideas, they help execute the programs, they prepare our materials for Condom Fairy, our free condom delivery program, and they’re planning tonight’s trivia event, so they absolutely help us do what we do in the wellness office. As peers, they have a good sense of what students know and where their gaps in knowledge are, so they can create questions that get at that.
You are currently in the process of recruiting new Student Health Ambassadors. What qualities do you look for?
Certainly we want students who are health-minded and have an interest in student health, who want to help other people make smarter and safer decisions. But you don’t have to be the picture of health to be a Student Health Ambassador, so keep that in mind too. We tend to attract health science students, which is great, but I think that the group has realized that it would be really great to have other points of view. Students who aren’t immersed in that field all the time and students who have skills in other areas that the group could benefit from, like marketing skills, creative skills, so they can grow the group and become more visible on campus.
Interested in learning about the Student Health Ambassadors? Find out more here.
Sex at the Sunset: Nacho Average Trivia Night is tonight, Tuesday, March 25, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., at the Sunset Cantina, 916 Commonwealth Ave. Trivia will start promptly at 7:30. Space is limited, so arrive early for a seat. The event is open to all BU students, regardless of age.
Sascha Garrey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.