DURHAM — It was standing-room-only to talk about sex Thursday night at UNH.
By Ella Nilsen
Friday, October 4, 2013
Megan Andelloux, a sexuality educator and sexologist, answers questions during a forum at UNH discussing “Orchestrating Orgasms.” On stage with her is a UNH student.
(Nilsen/Democrat photo)Hundreds of university students packed into the MUB’s Granite State Room on Thursday night to hear Megan Andelloux, a sexuality educator and sexologist, give her presentation on “Orchestrating Orgasms.”
Earlier in the day, conservative advocacy groups Cornerstone Action and Americans for Prosperity N.H. expressed their dissatisfaction that Andelloux’s presentation was being funded by UNH’s student activity fee, which comes directly out of each UNH student’s required college expenses and is used to pay for student events and groups.
In an email interview, Cornerstone Action Executive Director Ashley Pratte said, “I think it is ridiculous that the student activities fee is going toward this lecture. Student activities on campus are meant to promote an engaged community. This is no way an educational event or opportunity for the students.”
Pratte continued, “If they (the university) desire to promote a hookup culture rather than a quality education maybe they shouldn’t ask for more taxpayer-funded public money.”
A long line of students led into the Granite State Room before the start of Andelloux’s presentation. Some UNH students had been waiting in line for an hour.
When asked about the controversy surrounding the event, some students disagreed with concerns surrounding the sexual nature of the event.
“They (conservative advocacy groups) need to be a little more mature about it,” said Colby Hufnagle, a UNH freshman.
UNH senior Danielle Hall agreed with Hufnagle. “There’s a reason it was voted in. It’s an interest, it’s education,” Hall said. “Just because it doesn’t cover STDs, doesn’t mean it’s not educational.”
The outpouring of student interest in Andelloux’s presentation even caught MUSO, the UNH student group hosting the event, by surprise.
“When I thought of creating this event and putting it out and “fliering,” I had no idea that we would fill over 500 students in the room,” said MUSO executive director Taylor Barclay. “I didn’t know that the line would be all the way out the door and up the stairs.”
Speaking to the event’s controversial content, Barclay said, “It’s hard because some people just have a different opinion. I’m very sex positive and open about sexuality and I think everyone should learn about sexuality. Some people just disagree with that. Opinions are opinions.”
Barclay declined to comment on how much Student Activity Fee money was spent on the event.
Talking openly about sex was the main theme of Andelloux’s presentation. Andelloux, who started her career as a sex educator for Planned Parenthood, said that as she moved to adult sex education, “The adults were asking the same questions the kids were asking.”
“Why should we be talking about this (sex)?” she asked the audience. “We shouldn’t be shocked by our sexuality, we should be safe with it. These messages don’t get talked about and we don’t get a space to discuss it.”
Andelloux has worked as a sex educator for 17 years, and currently works as a clinical instructor for Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School and the Brown University Pediatrics Residency Program.
Andelloux said she was aware of the controversy surrounding her subject. She noted the controversy has increased in the past two years, to the point where she has had police escorts to some of her events.
“I think it’s really interesting that we’re really focused on that money aspect when it comes to sex,” she said. “That we don’t raise that issue with concerts, and we don’t raise it with politicians. Everything has an agenda, but denying that sexuality is a basic component of health is absurd.”
Many questions about many different topics were asked throughout the evening, and Andelloux said more than once that UNH was her favorite school to speak at so far.
“This was an amazing group,” she said. “I really saw a different type of audience in here tonight where there was a lot of kindness. The event was much bigger than I expected. Great questions, I had a blast.”