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In a room lit only by candles, undergraduates at the University at Albany had the opportunity to anonymously ask questions about energy concerns and sex during the UAlbany Green Scene’s annual Sex in the Dark forum on Thursday evening.

The event, hosted in the Campus Center, was moderated by Carol Stenger, the director of the Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence, and Mary Ellen Mallia, the director of Environmental Sustainability on campus. Throughout the duration of the evening, Stenger and Mallia gladly answered every question that students anonymously wrote on index cards at the start of the event.

Around 35 undergraduates anonymously asked a variety of questions ranging from “can you compost semen” to “can you break the penis.” The event began with uncomfortable giggles and subsided into an educational forum on energy, sexual pleasure, and sexual preference.

The overall thesis of the event is that sexual education is a never-ending lifetime process. According to Stenger, the first sex lesson that most individuals experience occurs younger than most people can pinpoint and is often led by parents.

“Kids, when they are very young have to learn body parts . . . so they play games . . . like ‘where’s Carol’s waist and the next thing, where’s Carol’s knees?’ And the message is there’s nothing between your waist and Carol’s knees that needs a name, that needs to be referred to, that she ever needs to talk about or know about. And that’s our first sex lesson from parents that didn’t cover those body parts.”

As questions were answered, it became clear that there are a variety of misconceptions about testing for sexually transmitted diseases. The mantra, “just get tested” is not as simple as the message conveys. The UAlbany Health Center does test for STDs; however, getting tested at the UAlbany Health Center may not make sense for everyone.

“They don’t charge for their services, but there is a charge for the labs that they send the test out to,” Stenger said.

She believes that students should have a place where they can get tested for free so that they do not have to worry about having their parents find out about the exam when their test results or costs are sent to their home.

Through Project SHAPE, which is an on campus peer education program focusing on sexuality and sexual health promotion, there is an STI and HIV testing sheet location that is published annually. A copy can be obtained by emailing the advocacy center.

During the event, the majority of questions pertained to how to pleasure your partner, how to receive pleasure, and how to be comfortable in a sexual setting.

Stenger broke down step by step all of these answers and how to make sure everyone feels comfortable during the sexual interaction. She explained that making sure that both parties consent to the situation leads to a much easier time sexually and emotionally for both partners.

“For great sex you need to use your mouth and that’s in all sorts of ways,” Stenger said.

Participants were incentivized to come with the promise of glow in the dark and endangered species condoms, which went faster than Halloween candy. The endangered species condoms had bold quotes on the packages such as “Fumbling in the dark? Think of the monarch” and “Wrap with care, save the polar bear.”

For students who have further questions pertaining to any aspect of sex, Stenger can be reached at 442-CARE. For students who wish to go in person, the Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence is located at the back stairs of Indian Quad; this location ensures confidentiality.

“They hide us on purpose because they don’t want people who might need us for sexual violence not come, so we want it private rather than in the campus center,” Stenger said.

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