Students gathered for the He Said … She Said presentation which addressed concerns about healthy relationships, sexual health and pregnancy on campus in the Driscoll Auditorium on April 7.
The message seemed to resonate: students are woefully misinformed on sexual health issues.
Kimberly Hill, coordinator of Peer Educator Programs, works closely with students and organized the event. She was impressed with both the attendance level and the caliber of questions asked.
“When you hold an event that doesn’t have entertainment, students don’t generally want to come, but we had a good number of students come and stay until the end,” Hill said.
The presentation consisted of a panel of specialists answering student-submitted questions.
Included on the panel were Mary Agnes Ostick and Mary McGonigle, both from the Health Center; senior Jennifer Carr, a POWER peer educator; Kathy Byrnes, associate vice president for Student Life and the University’s compliance officer for sexual harassment issues; and George James, a therapist with the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia.
The students in attendance weighed in on the subjects discussed with electronic polling.
This allowed the panel to address any discrepancies or confusion regarding the answers provided by students and kept the students’ attention focused on the process.
The questions, for the most part, contained multiple-choice answers based on common-sense perceptions. The choices opened up a variety of ways to look at basic relationship issues, such as break-ups and dating long-distance.
James, with his experience in relationship counseling, was able to provide humorous, but serious, perspectives on solutions to these common issues, like setting clear boundaries and expectations up-front when in a long-distance relationship or spending some precious time after a break-up to gauge what went wrong, rather than launching into another relationship.
Students were less adept at handling the tough issues, such as rape and pregnancy on campus, as well as STD testing and awareness.
For instance, the student responses were split in half as to whether it was possible to get herpes from a toilet seat (the answer is no).
Eighty-two percent believed that men can pass HPV to women, which is correct.
Ostick and McGonigle addressed the presence of STDs on Villanova’s campus and nationwide. Herpes remains the most common, although chlamydia is on the rise.
Only 27 percent of students answered “yes” when asked whether they and their partner had ever been tested for STDs.
Many were surprised to find that
STD testing and sexual counseling are
available right through the Health Center at any time for a fraction of the cost that most regular doctors charge.
The Health Center will even accommodate couples, allowing them to test together if they prefer it.
The subject of pregnancy on campus, however, provided conclusive answers.
Pregnant students need not leave school, as the popular rumor dictates, and are permitted to live in the residence halls, although Villanova does not offer ob-gyn services.
Kathy Byrnes offered herself as a helpful resource to students who find themselves pregnant and in need of help.
The lessons of the evening were prevention and self-awareness. The presentation addressed the tough issues and asked students to pass the information on to their peers.
Hill hopes that, through more programs like these, she can continue to educate and inform the students of Villanova.
“From the questions that students ask when we present on campus, we know they are misinformed,” she said. “They receive a lot of inappropriate messages from the media, so we wanted to provide a venue where the appropriate messages are being provided.”