SEXPO promotes sex positivity on campus

A scintillating debut


Sarah Kim

Student reception to SEXPO has been positive. Organizers of SEXPO expect it to become a recurring event on campus.

Chris Nguyen, Staff Reporter

On Sept. 23, in the upstairs ballroom of the Tinkham Veale University Center, booths and panels stretched across the length of the room, with speakers taking the podium to make announcements to a room bustling with energy. From the volunteers and booth patrons to the numerous students who attended, all of the energy in this year’s SEXPO was devoted to one subject: promoting sex positivity. Whether it be exploring your sexuality, learning about the human body or establishing the foundations for a healthy relationship, SEXPO provided a safe space to openly discuss and further encourage discussion about the numerous subjects surrounding sex.

Katherine Rodgers, the director of SEXPO, was motivated to lead SEXPO by a strong sex education throughout her life, as well as the experiences of others who struggled with illiteracy in a sexual climate. Rodgers emphasized that the focus of this event was not just understanding sex and sexuality, but to make sure that discussions about these topics can happen anywhere.

“We’re trying to remove some of the stigma associated with talking about it,” said Rodgers. “When I was growing up, I had a really good sex education program called ‘Our Whole Lives’. It was really comprehensive about things not just about sex, but relationships and self-esteem.”

The SEXPO event debuted last Friday, Sept. 23, attracting an attendance of over 300 students. The event was scheduled to raise awareness for the Red Zone, the period of time from the beginning of the year until Thanksgiving break where female students are most likely to be sexually assaulted. By placing the event in this time frame, discussions could be stimulated about expressing boundaries and maintaining healthy relationships.

“I had a friend who had actually been sexually assaulted and she didn’t know what that meant. And so she had all these questions where she was trying to figure out what happened, if it was her fault…. This needs to be something that people are willing to talk about. Not just what sexual assault is, but know what the healthy side of sex looks like,” shared Rogers. Though understanding the significance of sexual assault was one large aspect covered by SEXPO, it would not diminish the importance of the multitude of other subjects that took place at the event.

Booths covered a wide range of subjects, including male and female anatomy, fetishes, relationships, safety and religion. The booths were hosted not only by student organizations, but off-campus organizations as well, such as University Hospitals of Cleveland and Planned Parenthood, who intended to discuss safe sex practices. Representatives from stores like Ambiance made an appearance to discuss relationships and the more intimate aspects of sex. In addition to the large diversity of booths in the main ballroom, there were also talks in the lower floor ballroom. Each talk lasted for 30 minutes and touched on a variety of subjects, ranging from Planned Parenthood outlining the services available to clients to a representative from Leathermen giving a history of leather. These separate conferences would allow for a separate space where students could broach more intimate subject matter in a softer environment than the main expo upstairs.

Student reception has been positive. Rodgers expects SEXPO to become a recurring event on campus, potentially occurring yearly, if not on a semester basis. Should SEXPO return in the future, Rodgers hopes that the event can be expanded in scope, with more people and more space. Key expansions include more organizations involved, more areas of sexuality covered, more prominent speakers invited and deeper dives into established topics. Plans for SEXPO’s return are yet to be drawn up, but Rodgers is excited about the prospect of bringing back the event.

“So far all I’ve heard is positive. If students are in that environment, if they’ve learned one thing about sex, if they’re willing to talk about it a bit more, then we’ve done our job,” says Rodgers.