Anyone for a SHAG?
Aggie Romeril talks sexual health and guidance with Lucy and Matt from Exeter SHAG Society.
After the buzz surrounding their debut at this term’s freshers fair, where stash clad students casually handed out condoms without a blush in sight, curiosity teased the tab into picking the brains behind one of the university’s freshest and fearless new societies.
Aggie Romeril sat down with Lucy Singleton and Matt Mintram from Exeter SHAG to talk about safe sex, killer socials and STD screenings.
A: So what inspired a society about such a sensitive topic?
Lucy: RAG do a brilliant job with the SSB but it’s just it’s designated to only one week and we wanted a society that focuses on it all year round, its a pretty strong thing in university, quite a lot of people we know have had STDs.
A: It’s very relevant to student living. Do you think by starting the society you are taking a bit of the stigma away from the subject?
L: Thats what we wanted to try and tackle. We thought if we could get some confident third years who could do fun socials, that’d help destigmatise it. Some people think of it as quite embarrassing and quite lame: we are trying to eliminate that. Having an STD is more lame then being sexually aware…we want to tackle the stigmas in terms of chlamydia and those main STDs that are very strong in university life. One of our big aims is to stop people having unprotected sex in terms of being on the pill, saying ‘it’s fine, we use protection, I’m on the pill’…we want to try and tackle that.
A: Do you think there’s enough presence on campus? Would you like to see more campaigns and promotion or even more opportunities for screening on campus?
L: We are actually working with RAG on an idea we came up with. We’re going to try and set a world record for a ‘check-up week’ – the biggest amount of students getting a check up in one week and we want to try get Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies involved.
A: What do you see as your vision for the society?
M: RAG have far bigger roots then us; if we’re associated with them and the SSB, we want to elevate our standing in the university and really raise awareness for sexual health. We handed out free condoms at the squash, and we’re going to the be doing that again at the social tonight.
L: It’s all about creating a legacy that will continue at the university but having fun at the same time.
A: I thought you’d be very much in the bracket of ‘mind your head’ or the other charities which have a health focus but I think it’s really cool that you guys are breaking out of the clincial charity mould into interaction and socials
M: A lot of people they don’t see it as something cool to do, just using a condom, they have had the sex education at school but this is incorporating both – raising awareness but in a fun way, meeting new people at socials – just a different way of doing it.
L: It breaks away from campaign groups, out there on campus annoying people trying to get people to stop and talk. We want to have fun at the same time. We encourage people to come along and actually think about it.
A: In terms of confidentiality and seeking advice on things, do you think being students as opposed to an organisation gives you an upper hand?
You understand the predicament. There’s no judgement there
M: If i had something wrong with me I’d definitely rather talk to a health professional…but at the same time rather than a campaign group, I’d rather speak to a student who may have gone through exactly the same thing. You understand the predicament. There’s no judgement there.
A: So what have you got in the pipeline for the term ahead?
L: As well as the check up week we are going to have a big involvement with SSB and a lot leading up to that with more socials planned.
M: As well as the social tonight, we’re also in discussions with Original Sin regarding a themed night the week before SSB – doing what we do.
L: Just chipping away at the stigma attached to sexual health and push forward. Watch this space!
Inspiring stuff. Exeter SHAG are hosting their first social TONIGHT from 8pm at Mosaic, set to be a cracking evening involving teams, competitions with lash prizes and great chat from a good spread of all university years (fear not freshers).
Attendees also get queue jump to the venue with sets by Tonic and Vadeluer.