Sex weeks delves into STI education at STIgma event

Audrianna Modon

The STIgma: The truth about sexually transmitted infections event held in the Tri-Towers Rotunda Tuesday addressed sexual education with a fun and humorous vibe. The free event provided about 40 attendees with cotton candy, lube and tampons.

STIgma is a new program, and this was the first time it was presented to the public. Summer Wigley, a higher education and student personnel graduate student at Kent State, led the event. She is also a graduate assistant at the Women’s Center.

Wigly said the event was about having a conversation on how to destigmatize STDs, “especially since they are so prevalent on a college campus.”

She wanted to approach the topic of STIs and prevention in a way that wouldn’t send students running. The event encouraged crowd participation; attendees created groups to brainstorm and write their suggestions on how Kent State can create events or provide services to help prevent and treat STIs. Suggestions included everything from a “get tested day” to condom balloon animals.

“Admittedly, I was nervous,” Wigley said. “Just because it is a taboo topic, so how do you present it in a fun, creative way and not in this traditional way that we’ve always understood about sexual education?” 

Abstinence was not brought up in the presentation, other than to point out that if a person wishes to stay abstinent, that is their own way to control their sex positivity, is their choice and is totally OK.

Wigley supported her approach and distinguished the difference between this sexual education event and a common sexual education class by explaining, “I am not your elderly sex educator.”

She explained how to have a healthy sex life and the different ways in which life goes on after a diagnosis of an STI.

The STIgma presentation discussed stigmas surrounding STIs and ways to deal with your own diagnosis or the diagnosis of a friend.       

“I enjoyed it just because it was a different event that they had that I don’t think they had last year,” said Stephanie Groeschen, a junior psychology major. “And it is something that is super common. STIs are super common on a college campus, so it’s cool to just learn more about, just in case I experience it or someone else I know has to deal with that.”

The event sparked conversation between students in a productive and forward-thinking way regarding STIs and prevention.

“There was no fear-mongering,” said Charlie Yonker, a sophomore art history major. “There wasn’t like … you’re going to die if you have sex tomorrow, and it was very open and non-judgmental.” 

Yonker later went on to say her own preconceived notions about STIs were opened up during the event, and she came to a realization.

“It really is something that can happen to you,” Yonker said. “So you need to accept it and be proactive in your treatments.”

Audrianna Modon is the College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter. Contact her at [email protected].