At Sexpertise, students learn about sexual health

By K.C. Wassman, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 29, 2012

While Why Pornography Matters and Body Mapping aren’t your typical college classes, last week students had the opportunity to attend such classes at the University’s fourth annual Sexpertise conference.

The event, which was held at the Michigan League last week from Wednesday to Friday, fostered discussion on a variety of topics dealing with sexual health, relationships and the role of sex in society. Members of Sexperteam — a sexual health education group comprised of students and sponsored by University Health Service — hosted the conference in an effort to promote increased discussion of sexuality on campus.

Brittany Sandefur, a UHS sexual health educator, said she thought Sexpertise was a success, noting that about 150 people attended the three-day event.

“It went really well,” Sandefur said. “We had a little bit of a lower turn-out than we would have hoped for, but the people that did come got a lot out of it and the presentations were really great.”

Though it was Sandefur’s first year overseeing Sexpertise, she said she believes sexual education is an important part of campus life.

“It’s important to continue to have these kinds of conversations on campus,” Sandefur said. “It can be surprising how infrequently they happen and how students don’t have enough information about their bodies … So it’s good to have these conversations often so that everyone has the information they need to make safer, healthy decisions for themselves”

University alums Laura McAndrew and Olga Semenova, former members of Sexperteam, held a presentation at this year’s Sexpertise called, Pleasure: What you have and how to use it. Participants who came to their presentation played interactive games that cultivated discussion on sex, including drawing cards with an activity on it and lining up in order of riskiness.

In an interview after the event, McAndrew said she hopes Sexpertise helps students feel more comfortable discussing their sexuality.

“There’s so much learning that can be done and so many resources on the (University) campus for learning more about sexuality,” McAndrew said “… Sexual health is a really important part of everyone’s general health and that there’s no need to feel embarrassed about seeking out information or seeking out healthcare related to sex and sexuality.”

McAndrew said Sexpertise has evolved since its first conference, as organizers have been able to better pinpoint topics of relevance for University students.

“When Sexpertise started, there was probably less certainty about the audience and we’ve really been able to identify what students are looking for in the program,” McAndrew said.

Semenova credited the program’s evolution to the suggestions of participants in years past.

“Every event has evaluation afterwards,” Semenova added. “So if they express they want something on a different topic, it’s possible to get that topic going the next year.”

LSA sophomore Billy Diaz, who attended McAndrew and Semenova’s presentation, said he enjoyed the games and interactive aspect of Sexpertise.

“It’s awesome,” Diaz said. “I think (Sexperteam is) a great group who likes educating people and they’re good at it.”