Safer sex is sexy sex

A walking tour of the safer sex, gender diverse, and sexual and reproductive health resources available at SFU Burnaby

Written and photographed by Winona Young 

Whether you’re short on cash and condoms or in a sex-health conundrum, students need to look no further than SFU’s resource centres for all of the above and more. So save the frantic Google searches or trips to Nesters, because SFU has got sex-health resources for you! I wandered through SFU Burnaby’s campus facilities, and compiled a list of the resources available for free at the Women’s Centre, Out on Campus, and the SFU Health and Counselling services centre.  

First on the stop was the tried-and-true SFU Health and Counselling services centre in Maggie Benston Centre Room 0101. Conventional resources you can find there are free pads, regular and flavoured condoms (when I visited, the only flavour available was banana), Band-Aids, lube, and calling cards for sexual health clinics around Burnaby as well as cards for the BC Crisis Centre with numbers listed in case you’re ever in an emergency (which are open 24 hours, confidential, and free). If you need a hook-up for a place to get screened for Sexually Transmitted Illnesses (STIs) and have a BC Health Card, then you can call up the centre or head on down to make an appointment. You can get tested for common STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea on campus and you’ll hear back from them by the end of the week, or they’ll refer you to a clinic off-campus. For international students like me who may have not grown up in the Canadian school system, the clinic also offers free HPV shots to those in need!

Moving on down, the next stop is SFU’s Out on Campus centre. The centre is open Mondays to Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and provides free resources like razors, latex and latex-free external and internal condoms, dental dams, and consent toolboxes (which consist of two lubricated condoms, info on using external condoms, and a small written recap on how sexual consent works). Students are free to come in and pick up any of these resources, or grab a snack. If you need an interesting and informative read, Out on Campus also has books related to sexual health you could read or loan out. They even provide shorter pamphlets like “How to be an Accountable Man: A Handbook for Preventing Violence” and “Brazen: Trans Women’s Safer Sex Guide” for free.

Speaking of trans* as well as non-binary folks, Out on Campus also provides cards that list out the locations of all gender-neutral bathrooms on SFU’s various campuses, including athletic facilities. Harbour Centre, Burnaby, and Surrey boast at least 35 gender-neutral bathrooms, including those at W.A.C. Bennett Library 723, the bathroom by the Transportation Centre near Out on Campus, and West Mall Centre 0355 (third floor, adjacent to parking and across from the women’s washroom). All are cleaned regularly and are accessible by wheelchair. Out on Campus provides small info cards for the Trans and Gender Diverse Guide to SFU, which is available online.

Last but not least, is the SFSS Women’s Centre, in the Rotunda near West Mall. The Women’s Centre is rich with resources, many of which you may not know about. By now, it’s no surprise that the Women’s Centre provides sex-health resources like latex and latex-free condoms (external and internal), lube, consent toolboxes, pads, tampons, and students can ask staff members to provide pregnancy tests.

You probably don’t know that their shelves are also stacked with Goldfish cheese crackers, tea, and Nature Valley bars for hungry student in need. If you have bad menstrual cramps, they also have hot water bottles for you to use. Or if you need to keep looking glam-on-the-go for grad photos or a date, the Women’s Centre also has a hairdryer and a curling iron on hand!

Toward the back of the centre is a colourful couch where you can cozy up with one of their many sex-ed books or even some erotica. If you’re in need of a nap (and we’re all uni students so, really, all of us are), they have a Quiet Zone where self-identified women can lay down for some quick Zzz’s.

Further back from the Quiet Zone lies the lounge area, complete with a small kitchen with microwaves, an oven, and a stove top, as well as a few seats to relax in. There, you can also find a dizzying amount of pamphlet displays covering diverse topics from how to leave an abusive relationship, to sexual assault, to good places to store condoms. My personal favourite was the Safer Sex Guide, a colourful and quick read that listed various sex acts (for example, giving/receiving cunnilingus, penis-vagina/penis-anus intercourse, etc.) and what possible STIs can be contracted from performing those acts.

What all three resource centres have in common is that they were all welcoming, discrete, and shame-free environments. R.J. Doughty, the Women’s Centre resource assistant, emphasized the importance of such environments, saying, “Sex education and free safer sex resources are important because everyone has a body.” Doughty discussed the myriad misinformation and negativity around the topic of sex and sex education. To Doughty, counteracting this culture calls for a “comprehensive, inclusive sex education and an accessible variety of supplies offered in a non-judgmental way.”

So whether you’ll be cuddling up with your bae, playing the field, or replaying old reruns of The Office this month, all you SFU students grab what you can so you can be well-educated and stocked up for a sex-positive February!

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