Sex Week fosters safe, healthy campus culture to “reduce harm” and “promote connection”

Sexual Health Awareness Group (SHAG) hosts its annual Sex Week after one-year hiatus


The “I Love the Female Orgasm” event was held in Stackhouse Theater on Thursday, Nov. 4. Approximately 150 students attended. Photo by Emma Malinak, ’25.

Emma Malinak

For students who are accustomed to finding an array of posters, club t-shirts, donuts and donation boxes outside of Elrod Commons, the table of free condoms and lube may come as an unusual surprise. 

The table belongs to the Sexual Health Awareness Group (SHAG), a student organization dedicated to fostering a healthy sexual culture at W&L by promoting open dialogue on topics of love, sex and intimacy. Every fall, SHAG organizes a week of events involving interdisciplinary, thought-provoking and innovative programming that establishes a holistic understanding of sex and sexuality. 

“There’s a common misconception that Sex Week is about being sexually active, and it’s not,” explained Katana Evans, ’22, co-president of SHAG. “A huge part of it is actually learning how to respect your boundaries and others’ boundaries… Sex Week is all about learning how to love yourself, love others, and receive that love from others.”

After witnessing sexually traumatic events throughout her first semester on campus, Evans said she began to think about the significant harm that could be caused by the dominant sexual culture at the university.

By the end of her freshman year, she became president of SHAG, dedicated to building a proactive, engaging sex education system. 

While some campus organizations directly and reactively address sexual assault, SHAG has instead adopted strategies to intervene before sexual harm happens by encouraging consent, mutual pleasure and healthy romantic relationships.

“Fundamentally, whenever you promote a positive, inclusive and healthy sexual culture, it’s the most effective way to reduce harm and promote connection,” Evans said, in regards to SHAG’s mission.

Sex Week events kicked off on Monday, Nov. 1 with a Myth-Busting Panel. This discussion addressed common myths and misconceptions of sex held among college students, calling upon experts from the women, gender and sexuality studies department and the Office of Inclusion and Engagement to answer anonymous student questions with honesty and transparency.

“There’s lots of stigma around sex, and because of that, people don’t get the information they need or want,” Joey Dickinson, ’22, co-president of SHAG, said. She finds that Sex Week combats this stigma by providing opportunities for students to ask questions and be exposed to the issues that need to be solved in W&L’s campus culture.

The events continued on Nov. 2 with SHAG’s “Sex Off!” trivia night. Competing for $600 worth of prizes, including vibrators and other sex toys, students worked together in teams to answer questions about sexual health. 

The enthusiasm for this event was evident.

“I’m very happy and excited,” said Jeniffer Ventura, ’25. “God bless SHAG!”

This engaging event was followed by the SHAG Social, held at the Washingtonian House on Nov. 3, and the “I Love The Female Orgasm” event, in which sex educators Lindsay Fram and Marshall Miller covered the topic of female pleasure with humor, honesty and empowerment on Nov. 4. 

“Everybody has the right to enjoy their body in a way that brings them joy and pleasure, without shame,” Fram shared as the most important message from the interactive presentation.

The Sex Week events concluded on Nov. 5 with “Sexy FUDG” at the ARC house. Performers shared their favorite romantic songs and relationship stories on stage while guests warmed up with themed drinks such as “earl 50 Shades of Grey tea” and “apple of my eye cider.” 

Events of the week were accompanied by an informational pamphlet, distributed in Elrod Commons. Dickinson described the club’s first educational pamphlet as “sex and relationships 101” that was honestly written “by students, for students.”

Gender Action Group (GAG) also kicked off their 2021-2022 program with an engaging event. On Oct. 28, the club screened “Portrait of a Lady on Fire ” in Northen Auditorium. With GAG’s determination to raise awareness for women and other minorities’ sufferings, their goals align with SHAG’s mission to expose students to important issues and provide the education necessary for genuine understanding and inclusion.

“Understanding is a cornerstone for equality,” explained Beverly Xia, ’22, co-president of GAG. “I think Sex Week raises awareness that women have sexual desires and that women’s health matters, and ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ manifests that too.” 

For students who missed these events, there are still plenty of opportunities to learn and get involved in promoting a safe and accepting campus culture. SHAG has plans for more outreach initiatives throughout the year, and GAG has various movie screenings, discussion panels, and trivia nights planned as well. The next November event will be GAG’s screening of “On the Record,” a documentary covering the history of the #MeToo movement, which will provide students the opportunity to continue conversations started during Sex Week.