“Sex Week” is a weeklong program designed to create open conversations surrounding sexual health education and issues. Credit: Courtesy of Abby Rinderle

In an effort to educate on sexual health issues and promote a safer sexual atmosphere on campus, Student Advocates for Sexual Health Awareness are bringing “Sex Week” to Ohio State for the first time.

Sex Week will take place Feb. 11-17 and will be composed on a variety of events relating to sex education.

The program was conceived by Abby Rinderle, a third-year in public health and SASHA president, who said her inspiration for creating the event came from her work as an HIV/STI wellness counselor.

“I just realized people have very different understandings of sexual health and varying levels of comfort in regard to speaking about it,” Rinderle said.

After realizing the problem, Rinderle began the search for ways to address it where she then discovered Sex Week online at Harvard University. She reached out to students tied to the program and was able to make a trip to Harvard to experience their Sex Week in person.

The effort was made possible through the Second-year Transformational Experience Program — a program for second-year students at Ohio State that provides them with money to pursue their academic goals.

After witnessing the impact the program had at Harvard, Rinderle knew she wanted to bring it to Ohio State.

“I was talking to [Harvard Sex Week] presidents and they were super helpful giving me advice, telling me how to set this up,” Rinderle said.

Students involved with Sex Week at Harvard told Rinderle the best way to get a program going would be to create a student organization because they automatically get access to funding.

As a result, Rinderle created SASHA, the parent organization of Sex Week.

“[We’re] just trying to create a space where people can have a discussion and not feel judged and actually get the knowledge that they really need and want that most people probably didn’t get in high school,” she said.

Elaine Louden, a third-year in public health and Spanish, serves as a student representative to the College of Public Health on the SASHA e-board. She said she wanted to get involved in the effort to eliminate the fear often associated with talking about sex in public.

“Overall, just having this club and having Sex Week where we can have an opportunity to just openly talk about topics like this that a lot of us were just taught to push away and keep out of public light … can make it more open,” she said. “When people are more open about things, we can improve the sexual health atmosphere and the physical sexual health of this campus.”

Sex Week will have a broad spectrum of programming, some of which will include sessions on STIs, stigma surrounding Planned Parenthood and abortion, menstruation and sex toys. There will also be a resource fair in the Union as well as eight hours of free HIV/STI testing.

Rinderle said the purpose behind including so many topics within Sex Week was to draw in large audiences who might have different interests or who might want to learn more.

“We didn’t want it to be just people that cared about STI transmission,” she said. “So, this way, it’ll appeal to more people and there’s so many aspects to sexual health that aren’t talked about at all. We wanted to remind people that those things are included and worth talking about.”

Louden added that Sex Week will also promote awareness and education about marginalized groups as it pertains to sex education.

“We need to open up this campus as a place where people of color and the LGBT community have a voice, especially with sexual health that can impact the rest of your life,” Louden said.