Press

Read the Co-Presidents’ welcome letter for a history of Sex Week at Harvard.

For media inquiries, contact us at sexweek@hcs.harvard.edu.

October 25, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Sex Week Event Explores Religion and Sexuality

Lucia R. Hulsether, a second-year student at the Divinity School, grew up with conflicting beliefs about sexuality and body image as a resident of a conservative town but a member of a progressive church. These influences had an impact on her understanding of love and sex.

As part of the second annual Sex Week, Hulsether, along with two Harvard chaplains, led a discussion on Wednesday about how religious backgrounds affect individuals’ perspectives on sex and sexuality at “Faith, Sex, and Love: Bring It On!”

October 24, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Supporting Sex Week

Sunday saw the kick-off of Harvard’s second annual Sex Week, a tradition started last March after we saw the rise of sex weeks at several peer institutions such as Yale, Brown, and Northeastern. Sex Week is a step in the right direction toward creating a more open dialogue around issues that affect all of us, but that are often swept under the rug due to social taboos and lack of knowledge. Many students at Harvard were not provided with basic comprehensive sexual education in high school, and even those who were are often left with a great deal of questions and a lack of sexual agency that they don’t know how to answer or fix. Furthermore, most high schools do not promote open dialogue about sexual issues, and many parents do not want to discuss these issues either, so many students are left with a sense of embarrassment around issues that are very important to discuss openly.

The Harvard Crimson, Students Discuss Sex Openly in ‘Unsupervised’ Talk

Students gathered to discuss issues about sex and relationships in a workshop titled “Unsupervised” on Tuesday night as part of the second annual Sex Week at Harvard. The workshop was meant to provide a safe environment to talk about sex as a small group.

“We, as a culture, are not comfortable about sex,” said Shira Cahn-Lipman, the manager of youth education at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, who led the workshop. “We are sexual beings; it’s part of our nature.”

BostInno.com, Sex Week at Harvard: Orgasms, Sexual Health and “All Things Penis”

If you want to learn how to have an intense orgasm, or possibly brush up on the basics of sexual health that you skipped out on during high school, then pull up a seat at one of the many panels at Harvard’s second-annual “Sex Week.”

“Sex Week at Harvard,” the brainchild of two students with a lust for supplying sexual education to their campus peers, looks to “actively engage…students in embracing, thinking about, and discussing their experiences with their own sexualities.”

Classmates Abby Sun and Sam Meier, who co-founded the group Sexual Health Education & Advocacy throughout Harvard College, or SHEATH, brought the brazen discussions to the Harvard campus last year for the first time, shining a national spotlight on the seemingly stodgy, upscale school.

SHEATH, which coordinates Sex Week with the support and sponsorship of other Harvard-recognized organizations such as the Harvard College Women’s Center and the Center for Wellness, is a student group dedicated to “empowering the campus community to explore their experiences with love and sex.”

October 22, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Harvard’s 2nd Sex Week Kicks Off With Spoken Word

“I wrote this poem immediately post-sex,” said Yazmin Monet Watkins, spinning playfully in a circle at the front of the room. “I don’t feel the need to dance around the issue. We’re talking about sex here.”

Watkins, a queer spoken word poet, launched Harvard’s second annual Sex Week by sharing several poems with an audience of 60 students Sunday evening. Touching on a range of topics from discovering sexuality to religion to sexual violence, Watkins made the crowd laugh, clap, and snap their fingers in approval.

October 11, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Harvard Sex Week: Looking Backward, Looking Forward

At the beginning of this academic year, every Harvard freshman received a flyer under his door inviting him to participate in the planning of this year’s “Sex Week.” The average freshman, newly-arrived to college–a place and time self-consciously associated with the sexual–can be excused, perhaps, for not knowing what an event entitled “Sex Week” entails.

And, to be fair to the freshmen, the answer is a complicated one: An explanation of what Sex Week is and where it comes from involves not only engaging in a discussion about sexual behavior on college campuses, but also in a larger debate about the importance of having those discussions in the first place.

Samantha A. Meier ’12 and Abby P. Sun ’13 first hatched the idea of Sex Week while eating lunch during the summer of 2011. A big idea crafted over a small meal, it would lead to a media frenzy (Meier and Sun landed on the front page of The New York Times) and an event that would attract over 2,000 Harvard students and the sponsorship of over 21 student groups and administrative offices.

April 17, 2012

The Daily Beast, Harvard Sex Week: Dirty Talk, the Female Orgasm, and More

Sex Week is the brainchild of Abby Sun and Samantha Meier, who conceived of the idea while living together last May. They were frustrated with the lack of public discussion about sex on Harvard’s campus.

“There was no precipitating event, no hate-crime incident,” explained Sun, a junior studying art. Instead, it was a question that pushed them forward: who decides whether college students can handle educating themselves about sex?

The women passionately believe that talking about sex is an essential component of undergraduate education—and one that until last month Harvard was sorely lacking in, they said. There were some events on sex that were held sporadically throughout the year and the university provided resources for sexual health, but Meier and Sun felt that Harvard needed a unified week of programming to bring sex education to the fore of campus consciousness.

The Atlantic, Wire, Harvard Sex Week and the Next Wave of the Sexual Revolution

Plenty of schools around the U.S. have hosted their own sex weeks, addressing the question of contraception as well sexuality in general, a subject many students feel their high school health classes haven’t adequately prepared them for. And, really, how could they? Aside from the limitations of nearly any high school class on sexuality, there’s a whole lot of contradictory information out there, and there’s plenty more that while not necessarily contradictory, may or may not apply to one’s own situation. And things are constantly changing!

Harvard Sex Week seems to indicate the continuing shift in this “next wave.” If students are having less sex than were previous generations, you have to ask why. Maybe, simply, it’s that the more information and conversation about this, the better, for everyone—not that less sex is better, but that more well-chosen sex is.

April 16, 2012

The New York Times, College Students Opening Up Conversations About Sex

It was Sex Week at Harvard, a student-run program of lectures, panel discussions and blush-inducing conversations about all things sexual. The event was Harvard’s first, though the tradition started at Yale in 2002 and has since spread to colleges around the country: Brown, Northeastern, the University of Kentucky, Indiana University and Washington University have all held some version of Sex Week in recent years.

As Sex Week has spread to more campuses, it has maintained a balancing act between matters of sexual health and pleasure. Unlike typical student-run college programs in the decades following the discovery of H.I.V./AIDS, the campus events go beyond instruction on safe sex, rape prevention and sexually transmitted diseases to giving advice on how to feel more comfortable and fulfilled sexually, all, at least in theory, in a judgment-free atmosphere that embraces all lifestyles. The idea is to give the sex education that schools cannot — or choose not to.

April 2, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Reflecting on Sex Week

From those who never step foot into a Sex Week event to those who attend each one, I hope that the Harvard community will find more ways to engage in the thorough intellectual and emotional introspection that examining one’s own relationship(s) to love, sex, and sexuality demands, and to build relationships with each other in sharing what we have identified in ourselves and our communities. During next year’s Sex Week, I hope you will talk about sex, but more importantly, I hope you will listen

The Harvard Crimson, video, Harvard Students Learn About Female Orgasm

April 1, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Vagina Cupcakes, Vibrators, and Orgasms, Oh My!

At Saturday night’s eighth annual Female Orgasm Seminar, guests ate cupcakes with vagina- and penis-shaped chocolates on top while learning about female sexuality from sexologist Logan Levkoff.

Students lined up an hour in advance to get a seat in the packed Science Center lecture hall for the event, sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students. As guests filed into the room, board members of Sexual Health Education & Advocacy throughout Harvard College wandered around the lecture hall wearing a vulva costume.

“Sex Week in general is awesome,” said Roberto A. Perez ’15, “There isn’t this tension, it’s like ‘Just talk about it, guys.’ It’s nice to see a dialogue.”

March 31, 2012

Her Campus, 8th Annual Female Orgasm Seminar

Today marked the 8th Annual Female Orgasm Seminar featuring sexologist and relationship expert Dr. Logan Levkoff. With a packed room, vaginal pastries, and sex “necessity” give-aways, the seminar was a hit.

March 29, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Expert: Anxiety Ruins Sex

People are not enjoying sex as much as they could be, Occidental College sociology professor Lisa Wade said at her talk “Sex Machines vs. Sex Objects: How Stereotypes Subvert Sexual Pleasure” on Wednesday.

[B]eing sexy is different from being sexual, Wade said. She summed up masculine sexuality with the sentiment “I want” and feminine sexuality with the sentiment “I want to be wanted.”

March 28, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, “Dirty Talk” Event Encourages Open Dialogue

Ben Privot of The Consensual Project encouraged open discussions about sexual desires in Dirty Talk, a workshop on verbal sexual communication held Tuesday as part of Harvard’s first annual Sex Week.

Privot started the workshop by asking audience members to write on a note card the dirtiest and sexiest thing someone had ever said to them. He then had the audience crumple their note cards into a ball and throw them across the room, so that they could be picked up and read anonymously.

March 27, 2012

Channel 7 evening news, ‘Sex Week’ Comes to Harvard’s Campus

The Harvard campus is celebrating “sex week.”

“What we’re really talking about is discourse over intercourse,” said Samantha Meier, a student.

The Harvard Crimson, Flyby, Students Flock to ‘Hooking Up on Campus’ Event

Wade’s talk seemed to ring true with students, many of whom stuck around for a raffle of sex toys and t-shirts. “I was a little shocked by how what [Dr. Wade] said was very true of what I’ve experienced here,” said  Bay B. McCulloch ’12. “It was quite enlightening to hear that this inability to express emotions about sex is something other people are experiencing, too.”

The Harvard Crimson, Hook-up Culture Leaves Students Wanting

Wade said that hook-up culture exemplifies “pluralistic ignorance,” which occurs when the majority of the population fails to realize the truth of a situation. In this context, Wade said, pluralistic ignorance insists that everyone is satisfied by hook ups when they actually fail to meet many of their most basic desires.

Wade also noted that hook-up culture is “rabidly heterocentric” and marginalizes non-heterosexual sexual orientations.

Wade’s presentation drew a large crowd of students from the College as well as graduate students from across the University and underclassmen from other schools.

March 26, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Harvard Kicks Off Inaugural Sex Week

Harvard’s first-ever Sex Week, which aims to promote thoughtful discourse on issues of sex and sexuality through education, conversation, and vagina-themed cupcakes, kicked off Sunday with a presentation by Megan Andelloux, a certified sexuality educator and sexologist.

Meier said she sees the week as a unifying event for students. “Sex Week connects people while demonstrating and continually reflecting that people are different,” she said. “Sex Week builds community in this very strong way in which you are engaging with something that is personal in an intellectual, deep, and rigorous way.”

Throughout the week, a SHEATH table on the Science Center lawn will feature free safer sex supplies, educational materials, and activities. Representatives from partner organizations including peer-counseling groups will be on site to answer questions. Students who “like” Sex Week on Facebook or follow Sex Week on Twitter are automatically entered into a daily drawing for prizes which include sex toys, t-shirts, books, lotions, and sunglasses.

The Harvard Crimson, Flyby, Five Most ‘Colorful’ Sex Week Events

The organizers of Harvard’s first annual Sex Week hope to spark a campus-wide discussion on issues ranging from sexual health and communication to gender identification and sexuality. Sex Week, which runs through Saturday, has well over twenty different events planned. From abstinence to BDSM, there is something for everyone. And with event names like these, we are confident students will have plenty to talk about!

Boston Metro, Student Group Coordinates Harvard’s First ‘Sex Week’

The first “Sex Week at Harvard,” which unwrapped yesterday and continues through the end of this week, will address a range of topics like sexual health, education and hooking up on campus while connecting people through common experiences.

March 21, 2012

Her Campus, Harvard Sex Week

Organized by Sexual Health Education & Advocacy through Harvard College (SHEATH), Sex Week will provide fresh spins on sex, love and relationships. Sex Week promotes sexual education by organizing events of all shapes and sizes. As tempting as sexual education sounds by itself, free goodies will also be given at every event during Sex Week. So for Sex Week, make sure to participate in all the action: In terms of sexual education, you may be bad, but (after Sex Week) you’ll be perfectly good at it.

March 5, 2012

The Harvard Crimson,Let’s (Finally) Talk About Sex

Along with munch, Harvard’s first annual Sex Week represents what we hope will become a permanent campus trend. Frank and objective conversation on sexuality is fundamental not only to accepting students with alternative sexual preferences, but also to promoting healthy sexuality among all students. The importance of talking about sex cannot be overstated, particularly on a college campus, where many experience independence and explore their sexuality for the first time. Students who are aware of issues surrounding sex like the availability of contraception and other forms of protection, the tremendous variation in sexual preferences, and the dangers of sexual violence, are far more likely to access their sexuality in a healthy way and be honest with themselves and their partners about their desires.

February 15, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Let’s Talk About You and Me

Just like the provocative hook of Salt-n-Pepa’s song is catchier than the rest of its content, so too is it possible to focus on the “Sex” part of Sex Week at Harvard without examining what the Week is really about. For us, Sex Week is not just about sex: It is about discourse as much as it is about intercourse.

Our goals in planning Sex Week draw directly upon the mission of Harvard College itself. Harvard College “strives to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take best advantage of their educational opportunities…. to rejoice in discovery and in critical thought; to pursue excellence in the spirit of productive cooperation.” Seeking inspiration from this call for students to come together and create the educational opportunities that are pertinent to our lives, the mission statement of Sexual Health Education and Advocacy Throughout Harvard College has similar aspirations: “SHEATH aims to unite diverse members of Harvard’s community…to promote open, honest, holistic, culturally competent, and inclusive sexual health education and discussion.” We believe that examining “common human experiences with love, sex, sexuality, and relationships” are vital to any education.

February 14, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Laid Bare

Abby P. Sun ’13 and Samantha A. Meier ’12 have an acute sense of the magnitude of sexually focused art at Harvard, which makes sense given their roles as the organizers of Sex Week at Harvard. Sex Week, which begins on March 25, is designed to provide cohesion to the variety of workshops and events regarding sex issues on campus. Though not explicitly concerned with art, Sex Week will include some artistic events, including a public art display outside of the Science Center. Sun and Meier consider the material not only artistically valid but also of social importance.

“I think a lot of times people tend to think of art as depoliticized in some way or that the art community here at Harvard is disengaged from any advocacy,” Sun says. Examples such as Nayeli E. Rodriguez ’10’s “SEX, America”— a show that used materials from sex education classes to comment on the evolution of ideas about national views on sex—clearly contradict this view.

February 10, 2012

Christian Union, Harvard to Launch Inaugural Sex Week

Organizers of Sex Week at Harvard have reached out to ministries to participate in the event, according to Rutledge. “They mentioned that the results of their campus survey indicated that students were very interested in hearing more about religious perspectives on sexuality,” she said. Despite small turnouts at Yale for Sex Week events that addressed Scripture and sexuality, Rutledge believes Christians will be able to engage non-believers by presenting a credible, biblically-based view regarding issues of gender, sexuality and orientation.

“We hope to dispel myths which label Christianity as repressed and not supportive of sex-positive values,” she said. “Truthfully, Christianity encourages and celebrates sexual expression within a God-centric system.”

February 9, 2012

The Yale Daily News, Conceiving Sex Weeks

When asked about the criticisms that other sex weeks have received, Meier said she believed that education about sexual morals and sexual enjoyment could co-exist. “I don’t know if morals aren’t fun,” Meier said. “We’re interested in the full range of sexuality — that includes not having sex.”

But most importantly, Meier said that sex weeks must be “attentive to community feedback,” in order to deal with criticism like the situations seen at Yale and Wash U. At Yale, Cho said she hopes that other sex weeks have seen Yale’s example as inspiration to keep “being bold, and addressing issues of sex and sexuality in bold terms.” Meier said the Harvard team has been consistently meeting with students about proposed events.

“[Sex Week] will be part of the ongoing conversation of Harvard,” Meier said.

January 31, 2012

The Harvard Crimson, Flyby, Talk Dirty to Me

“Starting a discussion about love and sex at Harvard can be like doing a female condom demonstration—a little awkward, hard to insert, sometimes squeaky, but ultimately rewarding,” said Samantha A. Meier ’12 during a meeting to discuss the first ever Sex Week at Harvard, which will take place from March 25 to 31.

January 30, 2012

Stuff Magazine, Conceiving Sex Week

Let’s talk about sex. Easy, right? Not always (unless, of course, you’re Salt-N-Pepa). Many of us feel totally comfortable talking about sex in certain situations, like when we’re trading bedroom-based war stories with friends or devising dirty words during a robust game of Scrabble. But sometimes, even the most sophisticated among us clam up – whether we’re anxious about asking a question of a doctor or about expressing a request to a partner. So we’re intrigued by the prospect of having Harvard undergrads Samantha Meier and Abby Sun take us back to those academic days when no-holds-barred dialogue was de rigueur.

November 16, 2011

The Harvard Crimson, Group Plans First Sex Week on Campus

“Our role is connecting groups that are already doing amazing work on campus and making sure they have a platform and the ability to work in conjunction with other groups,” said Samantha A. Meier ’12, co-founder of SHEATH. “This isn’t just our vision for Sex Week.”

Meier said that an environment that fosters open discussion about sex is necessary for an individual’s sexual wellbeing.

The Yale Daily News, Harvard plans Sex Week

Abby Sun, a junior at Harvard and the other co-founder of SHEATH, said in the same email that she credits the “ground-breaking hard work of organizers of other Sex Weeks at schools, including Yale and Brown,” for making Harvard’s program possible, but added that SHEATH hopes to shape the program in a way that attends to the particular needs of the Harvard, Cambridge and Boston community.

“We are looking to put our own, Harvard-specific spin on Sex Week,” Sun said in a Monday email to the News. “As student organizers at Harvard, we see ourselves best able to address problems faced by members of the Harvard student community.”

examiner.com, Harvard College to host Sex Week in March

This week, following last week’s news that the Sex Week at Yale event will no longer be permitted to use the university’s name after protests over prominently featured porn stars on last year’s guest speaker list, the Harvard College student organization SHEATH (Sexual Health Education & Advocacy Throughout Harvard College) announced plans to coordinate the first campus-wide Sex Week at Harvard College this Spring.