Sex Week at the Queer Resource Center
A Conversation with QRC office manager Melanie Altaras
Vanguard: What are some of the QRC’s goals? How have you seen these goals succeeding on campus? How are these goals evolving?
Altaras: The QRC works to give students along spectra of gender and sexuality any support they may need to navigate PSU safely and graduate! We also want to ensure that all of campus, not only our center, is inclusive of and accessible to queer and trans students. We do these things by maintaining our center’s comfy lounge space, hosting lots of events and programming, as well as doing behind-the-scenes campus policy and advocacy work.
VG: What about the events and programs excites you? Makes you happy?
MA: Sex Week is my favorite annual event at the QRC! It’s planned and organized by a committee of student volunteers, and it’s a chance to reclaim sex education and sex-positivity with a queer lens. The stories of queer and trans people are left out of most conversations and education around sexual themes as we’re growing up, and now we have a chance for a redo!
VG: Does the QRC work with other groups on campus?
MA: All the time! For Sex Week, we are doing collaborative events with Illuminate, the Neuroscience Club, and the WRC’s Reproductive Justice Action Team. We also frequently partner with the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department, the Women’s Resource Center, and the Cultural Resource Centers.
Sex Week runs Feb. 13–17 and is, according to the QRC’s webpage, a “weeklong series of events focused on discussing and learning about sex and sexuality in queer and trans* communities.” The campus community can look forward to panels on asexual identities, sexuality and disability, sex and trans bodies, discussions about kink, consent workshops, erotic writing workshops, and many others.
Students looking to learn or get involved with the QRC can visit pdx.edu/queer for information about education, outreach, research and support. The QRC loves to see new faces at their events and volunteer opportunities.
Illuminate: Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention
A conversation with coordinator Amy Kayon
Vanguard: I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the work you do for Illuminate.
Kayon: My work as the coordinator is still being defined, in many ways. This program is just a little over a year old, so we are figuring some of this out as the program grows. My primary focus is program development. Program development is a broad concept but my focus is listening to the PSU campus community about prevention needs, holding best practices in mind while delivering comprehensive prevention to our campus. This includes supervising paid peer staff, volunteers, and interns who diligently offer support and services to make Illuminate successful.
VG: How have you seen the goals of Illuminate succeeding (or needing to be worked on) on campus?
AK: Illuminate is using the power of education to promote healthy relationships and sexuality by addressing the underlying social determinants of violence to create equal and respectful relationships.
I think Illuminate has been incredibly successful in its first year, and the second year is shaping up to be equally successful and exciting. That being said, there are always going to be aspects of this program that merit critique and evaluation. We are developing at such a rapid pace, we need to continue to keep evaluation in mind as a way to ensure we are meeting the needs of the campus community and to ensure efficacy of the programming we have in place.
VG: What about Illuminate and the events and programs excites you? Makes you happy?
AK: Illuminate’s growth and development coming from student, faculty, and staff input has been totally invigorating. The ability to create meaningful and comprehensive prevention efforts at an urban, commuter campus is not something I take for granted.
VG: What do you hope students and community members ultimately take away from these events?
AK: It’s Our Place is our active bystander workshop. Bystander intervention is an approach that can be used to improve situations where it looks like someone could use some help. The approach is about being an active, positive contributor, instead of ignoring the situation or expecting someone else to step in and fix it. Bystanders are witnesses who recognize there is risk of harm. Passive bystanders are people who choose, for whatever reason, to ignore the situation or to do nothing about it. Active bystanders are people who do something to try and improve the situation.
How to Hook Up is our consent workshop designed to provide students with the education, skills and the opportunity to understand and practice consent in a supportive space. This workshop will allow you to understand and practice the whys, whats, and hows of talking about sex with a partner.
VG: What are some events to look forward to?
VG: What are ways students can get involved?
AK: Inquire with me about volunteer and graduate internships. Sign up for our newsletter. Check out our website for workshops and awareness events and other ways to engage with current programming.
VG: Does Illuminate work with other groups on campus?
AK: Yes! International Student Life, Housing, Athletics, Orientation, RCSC, QRC, WRC, various academic programs, to name a few. We have been very fortunate to have such amazing campus partners enthusiastically engage with prevention.
Visit pdx.edu/shac/illuminate for more information about events, volunteering, support, and advocacy.
An incomplete list of campus groups that discuss sex/sexuality