On Oct. 14 the annual RA Loveline event brought fun activities, raffle prizes and a panel of sexual health experts together to answer New College students’ questions and concerns on topics ranging from communication in relationships to bodily fluids. Lots of work was put into creating a safe space for any sexual health and relationship related discussion by Residence Life and Resident Advisors (RAs) second-year Rhiannon Hanlon, third-years Abigail “Abby” Fussell and Brittney “Britt” Hall, and thesis students Melody Scott and Catalyst staff writer Natalie “Nat” Kornblum.
The event started with games where students who participated can earn a raffle ticket that they could enter for the sex toy of their choice. Upon signing in, participants could grab a goodie bag of condoms and candy, along with other gifts like handmade bookmarks and Planned Parenthood buttons.
“I remember as a second-year attending this event,” Hall said. “It was really exciting to see that my RAs were interested in helping in ways other than being resources on campus. Giving tools that people need to succeed in personal things is really rewarding and I’m really excited to see people come here and maybe get out of their comfort zone and learn some things they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Games challenged students to learn how to apply condoms correctly, turn condoms into dental dams and to pin the clitoris on the vagina. Each game taught a valuable lesson with the goal of community members practicing safe sex and knowing where sexual health resources are available.
“This event was what made me realize that I want to be a sexual educator,” Fussell exclaimed. “In my first year, I realized that’s something I could do from one of the panelists. It’s been really educational for me to learn how to host something like this.”
The festivities moved from outside the Hamilton “Ham” Center to Hamilton Classroom (HCL) 8, where students played rounds of “sex bingo” to score even more raffle tickets. After the highly anticipated distribution of raffle prizes, the panel of sexual health experts commenced.
The panelists consisted of Outreach Educator and Community Liaison at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida Kira Ferderber, HIV Prevention Program Manager at CAN Community Health Megan Murphy and New College Title IX & Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator Taylor Parker-Sellick.
The three panelists went through a list of questions and concerns submitted by the student body via Google Form. Many points were made by all panelists—stressing communication and explicit consent, and sharing resources on sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and birth control.
“I remember when I was attending, I was really surprised to find out how much more they were talking about besides the physical aspects of it,” Hall reminisced from past years of being in the audience for the panel. “I was interested in learning the emotional aspects, so I’m happy that I can be a part of it.”
Out of the many resources included in the panel, Ferderber went into details about a new grant that was awarded to Planned Parenthood. The Herald-Tribune reported that The Community Foundation of Sarasota County—funded by the Charlotte Jones Fund and the Evelyn Hanig Osterweil Fund II— provided a $59,461 grant to Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.
The grant will cover the costs of services such as birth control, emergency contraception, STI/HIV testing and treatment and transgender care for those uninsured and under-insured.