NEC’s Queer Straight Alliance kicked off October with a bang.
They hosted their second Sex Education Carnival in the Simon Great Room on October 7th, hoping to get students involved and educated on sex safety. Their event last year, garnering the attention of nearly 150 people, was the biggest QSA event that had ever been held.
Over the years the club, promoting equality and tolerance, had fallen under the radar, but with the newest class joining NEC’s community, has now come back stronger than ever.
Last year, after Ryder Close was elected president, the club started planning bigger events. Only consisting of a handful of members, QSA was more of a friend group than a club. “It was really hard getting things off the ground,” Close said.
With this new year, QSA has expanded exponentially. “Last year we ended with just enough people to fill our eboard and now we’re at 15. It’s incredible.” said Close. With more members, QSA isn‘t only creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ people on campus, they are also given more of a platform to advocate for safe sex and give people resources to practice it.
This year, 13 booths on various subjects were handing out condoms, dental dams, and lube, as well as pamphlets with contact information for services available to them locally. They were run by student volunteers from the club and had nearly 250 attendees.
Don’t Kid Yourself, their birth control booth, displayed the options for all genders when protecting against pregnancy. Red Flag Racers was a board that gave characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships as well as abuse hotlines. S.T. Dos & Don’ts spread awareness and taught students the importance of using protection when having sex, as well as information on where to get tested.
Along with having student run booths, Planned Parenthood of Manchester hosted a booth, giving out information about safe sex, condoms, and their services. TooTimid, a sex toy shop located in New Hampshire, also hosted a booth, talking about the importance of sex toy cleanliness and safety.
While many of their booths were lighthearted, QSA also made sure to dedicate one to Devon O’Dowd’s, NEC’s Area Coordinator, Take Back the Night Movement. Last year, O’Dowd hosted a week to help survivors of sexual assault move past their trauma. At the Sex Education Carnival, O’Dowd passed out information on counseling and support groups.
QSA made sure to book shuttles and promote their event on the NHIA campus, hoping to get the new merger students involved. With the help of Rowan Queathem, QSA’s advisor, who acted as a link between the two groups, a few shuttles of Manchester students came to enjoy the corndogs, popcorn, and raffles of phallic-shaped candy and gag gifts.
Working to close the gap between Henniker and the 45-minute drive to the new Manchester campus really exemplified what QSA’s message is: inclusivity.