Women & Gender

Yandoli: Sex SYMBALS message applies to all SU students

The student group Sex SYMBALS — Sexually conscious, Youthful, Mature, Black and Latino Students — hosted “Sex Week 2012” on campus before Fall Break. While Sex SYMBALS clearly focuses on specific student populations that are statistically at a higher risk, all Syracuse students should have considered participating in last week’s events.

The mission of Sex SYMBALS is to empower people of color in the Syracuse University and State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry community to live healthy sexual lives in a number of ways. The group prioritizes taking action against the spread of HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases; preventing sexual abuse; and promoting smart decision-making when it comes to sexual activity by providing educational resources and outreach support.

“As an organization that strives to educate students at SU and SUNY-ESF how to have a safe and healthy sexual relationship and how to have a healthy relationship, it’s imperative for students to come out and learn about these important topics in order to love safe and love smart,” Kimberly Huggins, the organization’s AIDS campaign director, explained to me.

Huggins also noted the group is hosting a World AIDS Day candle vigil in front of Hendricks Chapel on Nov. 30 in remembrance of the many lives lost to the epidemic.

There was a “sex and ice cream” speed dating social, an arts and crafts workshop that will result in a quilt for HIV Awareness Month, and a discussion forum called “Entitlement” about ideas around titles and monogamy in modern-day relationships on college campuses. The final event of Sex Week, a Date Auction, was co-hosted with the Haitian American Student Association on Thursday night.

Sex SYMBALS specifically targets student populations that are statistically higher risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, reported that African-Americans aged 13-24 made up for 65 percent of diagnoses of reported HIV infections in 2009 alone.

The CDC also noted that in 2009, 20 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S. involved Latinos.

Too often our campus can be self-segregated and people rarely step outside their comfort zones, but there’s something to be said for gaining knowledge around important subject matters that may or may not be your own.

Even though the discussion forum about modern-day relationships on college campuses was relevant to all students on campus regardless of race, I was one of the only non-students of color in attendance. In the future, students should embrace Sex Week and think about the different ways we can come together in advocacy for important ideas around sexual health and empowerment.

Regardless of race, class, gender and sexuality identifications, we all have common ground in the fact that college students are at higher risks of obtaining STDs. Not to mention, we all bleed Orange.

Krystie Yandoli is a senior women’s and gender studies and English and textual studies major. She can be reached at klyandol@syr.edu or followed on Twitter at @KrystieLYandoli.



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