“The kiss and who to tell”

Anna DeBraber, Lode Writer

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Episode 1: An interview with Whitney Boroski, Manager of Student Health and Wellness

“How do condoms work?”
“Where is the clitoris?”
“Where can I get tested for STIs?”

According to an interview with Whitney Boroski, these are the kinds of questions Michigan Tech students are asking. But who is answering them?

Whitney Boroski believes the University should answer these questions and more. As manager of Student Health and Wellness, she has spearheaded an effort to make information about sex accessible to students on campus.

“I’m not trying to encourage people to have sex by telling them all of this information,” she explains, “but I think students need to be given the tools to make their own decisions.”

The Lode will be taking a deep look over the coming weeks into what exactly makes up the underlying current that dictates how students form intimate relationships with one another. From high school sex education to the role of RAs, we will publish a series of articles examining campus attitudes regarding human sexuality.

Boroski and her team of peer educators are working towards a campus where people are having safe, healthy, consensual, informed sex, but this nation’s history stands in their way. Between 1982 and 2017 Congress spent over two billion dollars on abstinence-only-before-marriage education funding. Despite the finding in 2004 by the House Committee on Government Reform that 11 out of 13 of the programs funded were riddled with scientific and medical inaccuracies money has continued to be allocated to these efforts.

Whether or not they were impacted by these federally funded abstinence-only initiatives, the fact is that Michigan Tech students are having sex. During a survey conducted by the American Health Association on Tech’s campus in 2016, 57.5 percent of students had engaged in some form of sex in the past year. And from these experiences, they had questions like the ones at the top of the article.

Part of Boroski’s job is to help answer these questions, but she has run into an issue: how do you respond to questions that everyone is too embarrassed to ask? There are clever ways to get around this, such as an anonymous question submission link like the one on Tech’s health and wellness webpage, but those do not really address the heart of the matter.

According to Boroski, the best way to make a community as a whole comfortable talking about sex is just to start the conversation. She and her team have attempted to do this through a presentation they offer called Sex-versations. But no one organization can make this seismic shift alone. There must first be a deeper understanding of the forces that exist in Michigan Tech’s sex culture.