Point Loma Nazarene University’s Wellness Center presented its new sexual health resources and education to students at almost every residence hall on campus over a three-week period. The discussions included topics ranging from contraceptives, insurance, sexually transmitted infections and menstrual cycles to consent, stereotypes and gender equity.
The presentations were led by PLNU alumnus Kaitlin Sorgea, the health promotions specialist in the Wellness Center. Sorgea was not planning on staying at PLNU after graduating, but she saw a gap in the Wellness Center’s resources in relation to sexual health and was confident she could help remedy that need.
Going into the 2022-2023 academic year, the Wellness Center revamped its services, so Sorgea saw it as the perfect time to introduce more resources related to sexual health. Dr. Lauren Alexander was also hired for the position of supervising physician prior to the start of the academic year, and, according to Sorgea, specifically asked about PLNU’s sexual health services before accepting the job.
Bringing sexual health discussions to PLNU has stirred up some controversy due to the university’s traditional Christian beliefs and practices; however, Sorgea emphasized the importance of having these discussions.
“Statistically our students are not different from those at SDSU or UCSD,” Sorgea said. “Morally, people have different standards, but we have to be objective because [sex] happens.”
Third-year multimedia journalism major Lilly Corcoran, a Finch Hall resident assistant who helped organize the discussion at her residence hall, shared similar sentiments.
“It is not responsible to assume people in private schools are not sexually active,” said Corcoran. “Education is the best way to destigmatize this issue.”
At each residence hall, Sorgea discussed the benefits of sexual education and talked through resource options. With the revamp of the Wellness Center, it now offers pregnancy tests, STI/STD tests, different methods of birth control (both initial prescriptions and refills), pap smears and HPV vaccines.
Sorgea said that these are “big adult issues to deal with,” and shouldn’t be shied away from. She believes that education increases autonomy and gets college students ready as they trek farther into their adult lives.
Despite the sexes commonly being separated for sexual education in grade school, Sorgea feels separation does little for gender equity. This is why the co-ed residence halls will only have one shared information session.
“Having all genders share the same education communicates that they all have the same expectations,” said Sorgea.
Sorgea also refuted abstinence-only education, which is a more traditional education strategy in Christian contexts. She cited research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health that states how abstinence-only education is “not effective in delaying initiation of sexual intercourse or changing other behaviors, [whereas] comprehensive sexuality education programs successfully delay initiation of sexual intercourse and reduce sexual risk behaviors.”
While each residence hall received the same information — save the varying additional information shared based on the question and answer sessions at the end of each discussion — each residence hall went about the process differently. Finch Hall paired the sexual health presentation with succulents and fall treats.
Finch Hall resident second-year psychology major Maddy McFarlane said that she honestly only came to the discussion for the succulent, but, by the end of the night, was glad she heard about the sexual health resources.
“It is nice knowing stuff like this is on campus, especially on a Christian campus where these topics are taboo,” said McFarlane.
As with every other type of visit, sexual health visitis to the Wellness Center are confidential and are not subject to student conduct violations.
Sorgea hopes that students know they are supported and have resources available to them if and when they should need them.
“We are not here to judge past decisions or influence future decisions,” said Sorgea. “We just want you to be safe for yourself and others.”
For more information, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Wellness Center’s website, https://www.pointloma.edu/offices/wellness-center.