As Maynooth University re-branded their SHAG week to #KISS week, Laura Mulqueen examines the success of the week and how important it is to educate students about safe sex.

One of the many things students anticipate upon arriving at college is sex. Funnily enough the topic of safe sex is also something that college students need to be educated on. There is not enough pressure on students to use condoms, get a prescription for contraceptive, or read up on the importance of safe sex. This involves learning what an STI is, how it is contracted and the methods whereby they can be prevented. Formerly titled SHAG week, this year Maynooth University has re-branded the week as #KISS (keep it safe and sexy) week to offer a more approachable take on the subject of consensual sex.

Vice President for Welfare and Equality at Maynooth Student Union, Síona Cahill, and co at the student union are working tirelessly all week compiling over two thousand information packs with free condoms for the students of Maynooth University. They have pulled out all the stops to ensure this week is both educational and fun enough to maintain interest. Events such as sensual yoga, the annual Bio society’s sex quiz, 'shoot for love' events by Archery, to debates about sex work took place this week. Other events included literary circle live-readings of 50 shades of grey, workshops about consent and sexology, speed-dating, a durex magician, and loads of themed movie nights in honour of #KISS week.

“KISS week is about three main things”, says Síona Cahill. “Consent, respect, and safety. We don't want students to feel under pressure coming into college as a fresher that everyone else out there is super experienced and they're the only one who hasn't had a relationship or a one-night stand, or even been kissed. Everyone is on their own journey to figuring it out for themselves, and probably the most important aspect of that is that they should consent to what they're doing when something IS happening. KISS week promotes safe sex, both because you've consented, and also because you've used protection.”

So how does KISS week help? Especially for first years, it is an introduction to what sex means at college level, that not everyone has given away their virginity, not everyone is experienced and most importantly of all, explains the facilities available regarding sexual health at the university.  Síona states, “Regardless of whether you're in a relationship, married, dating, a man, a woman, drunk, sober, experienced, gay, straight, or just because you said yes initially, doesn't mean you should be put in a position where you're uncomfortable. Always ask first.”

The University is pulling out all of the stops to ensure this week is a success with free STI tests for students at the health centre all year around, free condoms available in the Arts Block to encourage responsible sex and special events each day to inform students on the importance of safe and consensual sex.

Maynooth Student Union liaised with the Dublin rape crisis centre who endorsed #KISS week and to which all proceeds from events this week will be donated to.  The tagline this year is ‘Consent is Sexy’ and it has been a very successful event with numerous clubs and societies getting involved to promote safe and consensual sex. So whether you are embracing sex, learning about sex or have concerns regarding sex, keep it safe and obviously sexy.