Delivering the latest buzz on fitness, nutrition and wellness for Syracuse University students.
by Noelia de la Cruz
After going through a yearlong process, Sex S.Y.M.B.A.L.S (Sexually Conscious Youthful Mature Black and Latino Students) has finally been recognized as an official organization on campus. While waiting for approval, the members of this organization has been working bringing awareness to its mission within the past year by offering forums on campus and reaching out to the community off campus in places such as the AIDS Community Resources center.
One of the main reasons Sex S.Y.M.B.A.L.S was formed was to address sexual health issues that were not necessarily being addressed by people in on-campus health centers, Syracuse University included.
“We don’t plan on changing the health center at this campus. We don’t think that’s something that we can even do,” said Timeka Williams, president and founder of Sex S.Y.M.B.A.L.S. “They have provided us with condoms and with various pamphlets but beyond that there has been no exchange between us and the health center.”
She emphasized that in no way does Sex S.Y.M.B.A.L.S try to demean the efforts of the health center, but the organization does feel that there is a lot that they are not doing for students – especially the black and Latino community.
“We’re not about telling professionals how to do their job. We’re just here to fill that gap that exists between what they provide and what students really need,” she said. For example, she said, not many students know that they are eligible for one free HIV test each year because the center does not advertise it.
Their first event of the year was the first event solely organized by Sex S.Y.M.B.A.L.S, although various members of the Greek community on campus participated. It was a two-part forum, SEXuality Myth Busters, in which audience members were given the opportunity to engage in an open discussion about sex and health.
The audience was separated by gender – the first night consisted of an only male audience with a female panel and vice-versa for the second night.
“We wanted to do that because we felt like that hadn’t been done before. It would allow them [the audience] to ask more questions and get more real without wondering about the pressure of having the opposite sex there,” said Williams.
For the spring semester, Sex SYMBALS is already anticipating more events and a Sex Week that would take place during the third week of February. Special events would include free HIV testing events, presentations, film screenings and an appearance by a prominent actress who advocates sexual health and empowerment. They also hope to make more appearances in high schools in the area; they have already coordinated workshops with three schools and hope to also become involved in churches and other community centers in the neighborhood.
Their focus is on spreading the word and they plan to become a stronger force on campus to educate students about the risks.