Peer Educators Promote Sexual Health

With the recent nation and campus-wide uproar surrounding the novel H1N1 virus, it has become easy to dismiss and sometimes even easier to forget the other health issues on campus. Peer Health Educators, headed by Coordinator of Alcohol and Drug Education Jane Jones along with senior Sam Horn and junior Brenda Boyle, is a group that was started in the Fall 2008 by a group of students interested in raising awareness of health concerns on campus. Last spring, the group organized a series of events aimed at promoting a healthy body image on campus. Events included a screening of the documentary America The Beautiful followed by a brown bag discussion with the director. Peer Health Educators also hosted a “Make Your Own Bento Box” night, where students could come and build their own boxed meal to learn about proper portion sizes. This semester, the group has decided to focus their energy on promoting sexual health around campus.

Sexual health at Colgate is something that many members of the group felt needed attention. Year after year the same mantras of “use a condom” and “practice safe sex” flood O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) tables and brown bag discussions, however, junior Melissa Lehman, a member of the group, and the other Peer Health Educators simply feel this is not enough.

“I think if we made the topic of sexual health more of a discussion between students and less of a lecture by other adults, we would be able to reach more people and discern what really concerns students about sexual health on campus,” Lehman said.

Junior Kristie Migliori echoed Lehman’s sentiments.

“After talking with several students, I can see that sexual health concerns at Colgate extend beyond the traditional fears of pregnancy and STDs, to issues such as sexual harassment and abuse.”

The Peer Health educators plan to collaborate with the campaign “Keep it Sexy, Colgate,” which is already promoting safe (but still enjoyable) sexual practices around campus.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is, sexual abuse happens all too often on all college campuses and most cases go largely underreported. According to the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, at least 1 in 4 college women will be a victim of sexual assault during her academic career. Additionally, they found that 50 percent of college students’ sexual assaults were associated with alcohol use and approximately 80 percent of all sexual assaults on college campuses were committed by an acquaintance of the victim.

Horn hopes that through Coop tables, a documentary screening, a panel discussion and brown bags the Peer Health Educators “will be able to make students aware of and encourage them to use the resources on campus available to them if they feel they have been sexually abused.”