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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

UC Davis’s Love Lab hosts ‘Sexcess Week’

Love Lab staff give insight on “Sexcess Week” and raising awareness about sexual health 

 

By ELIZABETH WOODHALL — features@theaggie.org

 

From May 15 to 19, UC Davis’s Love Lab hosted “Sexcess Week,” a week all about promoting awareness about sexual health for students. It consisted of workshops and events where students could learn more about sexual health — free of cost and open to anyone.

The Love Lab is a mobile cart located in the Health Education and Promotion office on the third floor of the Student Health and Wellness Center, according to its website. This mobile cart is stocked with free contraceptives and items that promote sexual well-being and safety. The Love Lab also provides educational material like cards and flyers to students who want to learn more about sexual health.

Abi Yeh, a fourth-year political science major and sexual well-being student coordinator for the Love Lab, said that the week is not only meant to be informative but it is also meant to be a fun way to learn about sexual health. 

“‘Sexcess Week’ is just a week we dedicate to raising awareness about the sexual health resources that the Love Lab offers, as well as what the Student Health and Counseling Services at UC Davis offers,” Yeh said. “We provide resources and information, and it’s also just a fun way to engage with students and work with our campus partners to promote safer sex.” 

This week-long event is geared toward all students according to Alyson Kahn, a fourth-year human development major and sexual well-being student coordinator at the Love Lab. 

“It’s an opportunity for any of the UC Davis students to have access to our programming,” Khan said. “A lot of our programming throughout the year will be strictly residence halls or based on a request from us. It’s a week where we put a lot of things open to the public.” 

“Sexcess Week” was inspired by campuses that host sexual health week during National Condom Week, which typically occurs during the week of Valentine’s Day, according to Stephanie Ha, a fourth-year human development major and sexual well-being student coordinator. Last year, the date was changed to May.

“Usually it was during National Condom Week, but for the last two years, it’s been the middle of May,” Kahn said. “It just fits better with the quarter. We noticed that planning-wise, it was really hard coming back from winter break and just jumping right into ‘Sexcess Week’ and getting that all together. We wanted to provide a time that fits best for the students.”

On May 15, the kick-off started. The student staff tabled at the Memorial Union from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., with students dropping by and asking their questions about sexual health. While tabling, Love Lab staff also gave out safer-sex products, informational material and stickers.

Ha said that it is important that students feel comfortable asking sex-related questions, especially with the existing stigma around sexual health. 

“We wanted to make sure to provide an inclusive and open environment for students to ask their questions,” Ha said. “Additionally, being able to table […] shows visibility on campus. So, more people can learn about our work and what we do, and it’s just to provide an informative and shame-free resource, as well as making sure […] students feel more comfortable seeking out sexual health resources and services.” 

On May 16, a “Pleasure and Communication Workshop” took place on the third floor at the Student Health and Counseling Services building. It was an interactive discussion about the importance of pleasure hosted by Yeh and Kahn.

“The workshop basically was a combination of a presentation style as well as interactive activities,” Yeh said. “It was meant to have a lot of open discussion. We had some conversation surrounding pleasure in both non-sexual as well as sexual context[s].”

During this workshop, Yeh said that it is important for pleasure to be part of sexual education. They informed participants about pleasure’s role in sexual intercourse — a topic that is often overshadowed. 

“Oftentimes, when we learn about sex for the first time, as adolescents or young adults, we’re often told the negative aspects of sex, like sexually transmitted infections or how to avoid a pregnancy,” Yeh said. “And while those things are really important, pleasure is also really important because it is like the main reason why most people engage in sexual activity at all.” 

Combating negative stigma around sex can start conversations around sexual health, allowing people to engage in healthier communication around sex-related topics, Yeh said. 

On May 17, “AndPI Sex Ed w/ the Love Lab” was hosted at the Student Community Center in collaboration with the Strategic Asian and Pacific Island Retention Initiative (SA&PIRI).  The workshop was joined by Tatum Phan, Ph.D., a UC Davis counselor in the Cross Cultural Center and Asian American Studies Department. Phan helped put on a game of Kahoot, a game-based learning platform, to teach students about HIV and its impacts on the Asian American community. 

“We use the Kahoot platform to make sure to try and be interactive and fun while also being educational for students, who are always using this in their classes, and [Kahoot] has always been really fun for others,” Ha said. “It’s also used in our sex Kahoots, which we do for residential halls, campus organizations and classes. We actually had a sex Kahoot to end our ‘Sexcess Week’ on Friday last week.”

Having this conversation about HIV be centered around the Asian American community brings in more visibility to an issue that is not often talked about within the community. 

“It lets people know that they’re not alone,” Ha said. “Additionally, like the Asian and Pacific Islander population, many people in this community are affected by HIV and don’t know it, as well as are affected by various barriers. It’s just important to shed light on the issue to eliminate HIV stigma, as well as support people living with HIV.”

Students can access the UC Davis Sexcess Map on the Love Lab’s website, which details where all the sexual health resources can be found on and around campus. Students can access these nearby resources free of cost. 

Written by: Elizabeth Woodhall — features@theaggie.org