VOX Week took its spot on campus for the third year in a row, bringing with it a variety of events ranging from an Affordable Care Act (ACA) information session to a performance and workshop by Sonya Reneé, founder of the The Body Is Not an Apology movement. Starting with Renée’s performance on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 3 and lasting until Megan Andelloux closed the week with a performance on Nov. 8, VOX Week, which is hosted by the Voices of Planned Parenthood (VOX) club, offered a variety of opportunities for New College students to educate themselves on various aspects of sexual health and rights.
Renée’s opening performance and workshop, the first time she has ever performed at New College, was kickstarted with three performances by New College students: first-year Logan Schulman, first-year and Catalyst staff member Allya Yourish, and second-year Anna Rodriguez. “I thought [the opening poems] were really cool,” first-year Gabriella Frankhouser said after the performance. “I have some of the students in my class and … it was nice to hear them say things you can connect with, even if you don’t know them.”
Renée followed up the student poems with poetry of her own, interspersed between small speeches about reproductive rights, racism and privilege in the United States. “Some of [Renée’s] poems brought me to tears,” Frankhouser admitted.
Renée, who is a National and International Poetry Slam champion, performed a number of poems that addressed hard issues, such as her poem on reproductive rights titled “Why we hold our tongues.” In it, Renée is unapologetic and upfront about her decision to get an abortion, ending the poem with the passionate line, “I did choose life. I did choose life – mine.”
“It ended up being a great way to kick off the week,” thesis student and co-president of VOX Lynn Gusman said.
Renée’s performance was followed on Tuesday, Nov. 5 by the Sex Olympics.
Initially a small event held in the Nook, the Sex Olympic has grown in scope and size over the past couple of years, now encompassing most of Z-Green from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The event held an assortment of games, such as the Blindfolded Flavored Lube Tasting and a Safer Sex Relay and prizes ranging from lubes to to a “blowjob in a box” kit.
“Sex Olympics was actually really fun,” second-year Cole Ingram said. Ingram won one of the events, a sex-related BINGO game. Ingram is a returning Sex Olympics participant, having taken part in the games held last year.
On Wednesday, Nov. 6, VOX Week hosted a screening of the documentary “Let’s Talk About Sex”. Around 30 students showed up to watch the documentary, including second-year Dannie Benedi. “It was really eye-opening to watch,” Benedi said. “Even ‘liberals’ in America treat sex like a sacred thing, which is damaging to kids. I don’t get why Americans are such prudes about this.”
Thursday’s event was an ACA information session, led by New College alum Caitlyn Miller (‘02), the grassroots outreach manager for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. Miller passed out an informational packet and walked the 12 or so attendees through a customized explanation about the ins and outs of the ACA, tailoring her performance to the needs and questions of the students who attended. “I think that very few people our age realize how Obamacare is going to impact them,” Gusman said.
“We believe that a lot of students don’t realize that it may be their responsibility to obtain health insurance and they need to know all of their possible outlets,” third-year and co-president of VOX Cassandra Corrado said.
“A lot of people there had a lot of questions,” second-year Wilmarie Rios-Jaime said. “And she did really well in answering and taking the time to really explain what’s going on.” Rios-Jaime, who explained that she had a vested interest in the details of the ACA bill because she has many friends who are uninsured, admitted that the topic remained partially confusing, but added , “It is a confusing document and a confusing bill, [and] I did get a sense of what is going on and how people are being affected by this.”
Rios-Jaime said, “If you have an expert explaining it to you who’s saying ‘this is really complicated’, imagine how the general public feels dealing with it.”
Friday’s VOX Week event brought the biggest performance with it to end the week: Megan Andelloux’s “Super Sex College Style” presentation drew a crowd of more than 100 students to listen to her talk about masturbation, sex toys, various forms of barrier protection and sexual pleasure. Her performance included a demonstration of how to put a condom on with your mouth, a new sex toy that can be used on flaccid penises, discussion about the benefits of kegel exercises and the specifics of the necessity of pap smears (it is unnecessary and potentially dangerous before the age of 21).
“The turnout for Megan’s workshop was impressive, as usual,” Gusman said of the event. “People seemed really engaged and interested, and I was impressed at how many first years attended.” Andelloux has performed at New College six times before, the most recent before VOX Week being during the Fall 2013 Orientation.
“I think there was a greater turnout for this year’s events than last year,” Gusman said of the week. “Especially considering a fair amount of people came to the less cool events like the ACA info session and movie night.”
“VOX Week is kind of about everything sexual and reproductive health related,” Gusman explained.
“The events that we currently do for VOX Week are kind of things that have formed over the past two years,” Corrado said. “Ultimately, we’re trying to educate people in a lot of different ways, whether that means sending one million e-mails, handing out tons of condoms, or hosting a bunch of workshops. We want to help facilitate that conversation.”
Unfortunately, one part of the planned VOX Week, a Sex Positivity zine, had to be cancelled due to a lack of submissions.