UCD’s Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance day (SHAG) was held last Wednesday, 21 October 2015. The event makes a change from last year’s Sex Out Loud week, which was focused on consent. It also marks a difference from recent years which saw a week devoted to sexual health.
Welfare Officer Clare O’Connor explains that “one of the reasons UCD SHAG was condensed into a single day was to maximise engagement. A themed week can actually see less people engaging than a single day.” When asked if the reduction in time could be a disadvantage to students O’Connor declined to respond.
She further notes that “running a themed week filled with events means that we’re not behind our desks and that a lot less is going on behind the scenes.” O’Connor claims that this allows the sabbatical officers to focus on other campaigns such as youth suicide prevention, documenting sexual violence on campus and freezing price hikes for on-campus accommodation.
Recently UCDSU confirmed that they had reduced the rent increases on campus from a proposed 14 per cent to 7 per cent. The hike looks set to remain until next year at least.
UCD SHAG was also moved from week five, when it was originally supposed to be held, to week seven. Though at the start of the semester SHAG week was confirmed to be held earlier, O’Connor says this change was due to the fact that “week five was centred around the launch of our #NotAskingForIt campaign. It was a conscious decision not to launch SHAG that week.”
O’Connor explains that “the focus of SHAG Day and Night is on frank and open conversations about consensual sex.” She notes that the event aims to highlight STI testing. O’Connor claims that a recent article in the Irish Independent revealed that 60 per cent of Irish people have not been tested despite being sexually active for a long period of time.
She explains that there is a difference between the #NotAskingForIt campaign and UCD SHAG. “#NotAskingForIt isn’t a campaign which takes consensual sex as a point of departure and its focus is not on changing culture so that people are more willing to go for screenings and be less embarrassed about consensual sex. #NotAskingForIT is about starting a movement and starting a different conversation with a different tone,” O’Connor says.
Bringing back SHAG week was a key point of O’Connor’s election campaign last April. At the time when asked about the difference between the consent based Sex Out Loud and SHAG week, O’Connor noted they are “largely the same thing except with a different name,” and that it is largely “a branding point of view.”
Activities held as part of UCD SHAG included a morning after breakfast, air your dirty laundry exhibition and a coming out workshop in conjunction with UCD LGBTQ+. O’Connor says that “the event [went] great. We’ve had a huge turnout,” and that there was “huge engagement with the breakfast and the exhibition.”