Tag Archives: sex

Gender Center Provides Safe Space for Sex Discussion

Foghorn Archives  The GSWRC was opened after several incidents of sexual violence were reported on USF campus last spring, launching a student movement against sexual violence, including this Take Back the Night march, lead by Jenna Recupero, Jenny Reed, and Erika Carlsen.

Foghorn Archives The GSWRC was opened after several incidents of sexual violence were reported on USF campus last spring, launching a student movement against sexual violence, including this Take Back the Night march, lead by Jenna Recupero, Jenny Reed, and Erika Carlsen.

In one of the most heavily-trafficked parts of USF campus, next to the Market Cafe in the University Center, the new Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Resource Center (GSWRC) has opened its doors. The resource center is the brainchild of a group of students and administrators in response to several incidents of sexual violence reported last semester (for more information see “Caskey” on page 3).

Senior Samantha Sheppard-Gonzales saw the center take shape from the beginning as the co-director of the club Students Taking Action Against Sexual Violence (STAASV)

When these concerned students started meeting to address the issue of sexual violence on campus, they broke into specific action-oriented committees. Sheppard-Gonzales’ committee was focused on the need for a resource center on campus, a safe and inclusive space.

“The hardest part was convincing the administration that it was really necessary,” Sheppard-Gonzales said. With the support of Dean of Students Mary Wardell, the center was approved and open by summer. “It was nice to see student action lead to such tangible results so quickly,” Sheppard-Gonzales said.

The GSWRC is a multipurpose facility according to Megan Gallagher, assistant director of Health Promotion Services, who helps oversee the center. “We want to bring together the themes of gender and sexuality issues, working on prevention [of sexual violence] and guidance and referrals [for victims].”

To reach these goals, the center provides a library of thought-provoking literature and DVDs, fiction and non-fiction, about gender and sexuality issues, all of which can be checked out at no charge. There is also a wealth of information compiled by graduate students in the School of Nursing advising young people what to do if they are in an abusive relationship or have been sexually assaulted.

Graduate nursing students are the staff that keeps the GSWRC going. Joellyn Morris, one such staff member who has been working in the center since June, said the center can help people establish healthy relationships, can educate people how to prevent sexual assault, and can provide support for survivors of sexual assault.

Most importantly, she said, “It is nice to see a safe space on campus for women, and for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community.”

The center is not limited to just those groups though. “It’s for everyone, men and women,” Morris said. After all, “Issues having to do with women have to do with men too.”

In the upcoming semester the GSWRC plans to host events such as film screenings, guest lecturers and self-defense classes. The center will also be the meeting space of the STAASV club, and Sheppard-Gonzales hopes it can be a place for everyone to gather information and even just hang out.

Freshman Stephanie Bruguera had already visited the center by the first week of classes. Relaxing on a comfortable couch, a rainbow-colored mural brightening the wall behind her, she perused the library of reading material and movies.

Not necessarily expecting to see a gender resource center on campus when she chose to attend this University, she said, “I was really happy to see this.” Gender issues interest Bruguera; she is considering adding a minor in gender and sexuality studies to her biology major. Of the center, she said, “I will for sure be coming back.”

The GSWRC in UC 200 is open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday with evening hours from 5 – 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Letter to the Editor: ASUSF VP of Social Justice Says Join the Open Forum on Sexual Awareness

Dear Fellow USF Community Member,

During weeks following the sexual assault incidents that have occurred on campus, individuals from the USF community including students, faculty, administration and additional San Francisco community members have met every Thursday at dead hour to participate in a community dialogue. The first forum following the incident was a space in which people could freely voice their opinions and reactions toward what happened, as well as addressing the community response thus far. Education about sexual assault was a key element at this forum, as well as addressing the response from the administration. The colonel of the ROTC program at USF was also in attendance, and he addressed questions and concerns by community members.

The second forum was dedicated to talking about the ways in which we can take action, and bring awareness to the community. Community members decided on an initiative group they would like to participate in. Each group focuses on a different approach to addressing sexual assault on campus. These groups are geared towards, but not limited to, creating a women’s center on campus, women’s and men’s groups on campus, and a 24-hour sexual assault hotline for students to call; developing anonymous ways to report sexual assault, implementing a new student mandatory orientation on rape and sexual assault, general safety forums, “I consent” workshops, examining the USF drinking policy in relation to sexual assault, ROTC curriculum on the USF campus, raising awareness throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, holding vigils on the USF campus, spurring curriculum development, cultural diversity requirement amendments for the entire student body, a more progressive sexual assault policy and art projects to serve as a visual response to sexual violence.

Each specific group will address each individual form of community response, and take the initiative to implement the steps of action on campus. Currently, the structure for the Women’s & Men’s

Support/Conversation groups have been developing. The current mission statement for the Women’s group includes forming a “group that seeks to provide open dialogue, support, advocacy, education and accessible resources to all USF women” as well as stating that the group will “collectively work to break down societal gender structures and roles, and foster unity and empowerment in a safe space.” The pivotal role of this organization is to “create a community that encourages positive relationships and bonding among women,” in addition to “working in solidarity with other campus organizations… to commit to working in coalition to achieve social change.”

The entire community is invited to continue to meet and reflect, and discuss how each committee is implementing its goals and also ways in which we can support one another. Currently, community members are seeking the avenues in which funding can be received to make the steps of action a reality. This is not an isolated incident and it will not go unaddressed on this campus.

We hope that you will join in the conversation and take action on our campus! Come any Thursday during dead hour 12:15-1:15 p.m. in Parina Lounge.

Thank you.

Alia M. Al-Sharif
Vice President of Social Justice, ASUSF Senate

The Role of Sex Education at a Jesuit University

Yes, it is true that college student are most likely either thinking of having sex, or currently having sex, but does that immediately correlate to the rapes that have occurred on campus? No. It is important that students have the resources available to them so that they can talk to health services in the event that a sexual assault does happen, but that absolutely has no pertinence as to why there should be condoms, morning after pills, or Planned Parenthood on campus.
We are a Jesuit University and arguably the most liberal in the United States. The health insurance coverage that is mandatory to all USF students just as of last month removed coverage for abortions. The stance of the Catholic Church, especially in regards to premarital sex is abstinence. Students knowingly choose to attend USF and those students who do not agree with Church teachings or whom decide to partake in sexually activity are more than capable of purchasing condoms or the morning after pill from a pharmacy.
It is an insult to the intelligence of all USF students to try and draw the conclusion that because of a recent sexual abuse problem on campus that the University should be opening up discussion on sex leading to the offering of condoms and morning after pills on campus.
It is, however, perfectly reasonable to suggest that the University or its ASUSF staff should hold more sexual health forums or discussions in order to promote a safer campus. There does need to be a place for students who have been sexually abused to go and seek guidance, but suggesting that USF, because of these recent assaults, should down play its Catholic, Jesuit origin and beliefs in order be “progressive” and to supply students with condoms, the morning after pill, or directions to planned parenthood, all of which are things students, being legal adults can do for themselves, is an opportunistic move that ultimately insults the recent victims and hurts the USF community a long with the image of USF.
It is important that students learn to take responsibility for themselves and to treat one another with a respect that makes students proud to call themselves a Don. It is the roll of the University and those whom represent it to promote a community based in trust and comfort that allows for an open discussion on those things that affect us all.

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Open the Sex Discussion on Campus

After the forum that was organized last Thursday in USF’s new amphitheatre to openly discuss the recent rapes, one thing was clear.

Sure, there was a lot of finger-pointing and disagreement and some blamed the administration for allegedly keeping the facts from students.

Some pointed the finger at ROTC (of which the alleged rapist was a member), saying the military fosters violence and sexualization and has no place at USF.

These are valid points that should be openly discussed as they were on Thursday. And that leads to the point that everybody agreed on: this campus needs more open discussions, especially surrounding sex.

Several students and I left that forum on Thursday wondering, as we did when the minute we first set foot on this campus, “Where are all the sexual health resources on this campus?”

I know we’re a Jesuit campus, but we can’t deny that college students are having, or thinking about having, sex.

And that’s not to say we’re not coming from previous backgrounds, many of us enter college knowing about our bodies and what happens when you don’t wear a condom. Others may not.

But that is where the information stops. The minute we are USF students, we are no longer among a safe, open culture of sexual knowledge and discussion.

Sure, we’re bombarded by safe drinking tips—from the mandatory AlcoholEdu online course to “mocktail” parties put on by the dorms that try to foster discussions about drinking and the risks involved.

But where are the online courses and events about sexual assault? About rape? About what’s too far, what’s okay and what’s not? About how no one should ever be sexually victimized?

We have no sexual health classes or sexual health facilities; unless you count those measly pamphlets hidden outside the caf that barely touch on sexual health issues. There are no condoms in dorm bathrooms, unlike on other college campuses.

Nowhere at USF can you obtain the morning after pill. Resident advisors aren’t allowed to even tell us where the nearest Planned Parenthood is.

Everyone on this campus, regardless of his or her stance on when or when not one should have sex, should be aware of the facts – the absence of sex education directly correlates with unwanted pregnancies and STDs.

Now, I know we all know the basics about sex, but what about sexual assault and rape? If we know that hiding facts from students is bad, then why are we disregarding further sex education?

We’re in the real world, the real world where one out of every six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.

A progressive university in one of the most liberal cities in the world is ignoring this statistic, and ignoring the need to inform students about a serious matter. This is appalling.

We are humans. We are sexual beings. We are having sex.

But we are young, and we are students and we have questions. Give us the resources and give us the space to talk about this openly.

Kate Elston is a senior media studies major.