Sex Signals program brings awareness to freshman class

Sarah Simon, Contributing Reporter

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The following is an opinion article and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

The man sees the woman sitting alone at the bar.

It’s been a hard day at work, and she orders a drink while she waits for her friends. He thinks she’s beautiful, wants to talk to her, so he buys her a drink. Then he chats her up and does what he can to take her home.

She is uncomfortable, afraid and desperate to get out of this situation. The scene pauses.

This is a familiar story: the overeager, way too-forward man, the woman who must grin and bear it. This story is played out in Hollywood, theater and, unfortunately, reality. More recently, this scenario played out on the stage of Dixon Hall as part of the Sex Signals programs. 

Tulane University has a spotty history of sexual violence and response. This year, Tulane introduced a new presentation to help combat this at the root. A portion of Fall Welcome focused on educating incoming freshman about sex, sexual violence, the bystander effect and how to be an ally. This year, these heavy topics were taught through comedy. And it worked.

The highly successful program, Sex Signals, should be reintroduced and brought to the larger student body — not just incoming freshmen.

Sakinah Iman and Phillip Sheridan, the actors sent by Sex Signals, joked and laughed and overacted, but at the root of their skits, they exposed difficult truths to a difficult audience — and they got a reaction.

Students laughed and participated.

This program came to Tulane by the hands of Julia Broussard, assistant director of Case Management and Victim Support Services. Broussard has coordinated Fall Welcome for four years, but this is the first year Sex Signals has been shown on campus.

“Sex Signals more thoroughly covered the issues of consent and rape myths and attitudes than past programs have,” Broussard said.

Sexual awareness is crucial on a college campus. Having mandatory programs that deeply discuss this is important because it makes understanding accessible. This program gives students the opportunity to openly discuss and seriously consider their role and how they can overcome social and cultural norms to be an “upstander” and intervene.

“I do hope that in addition to these goals, the program spurs students to reflect on what a healthy sexual relationship looks like and to reflect on gender norms and how they influence our culture,” Broussard said.

These reflections have been occurring. Sex Signals impacted this campus. Iman and Sheridan made these messages accessible and helped develop recognition of what is and what is not proper etiquette. They employed comedy to try to dramatize and expose very mundane and accepted injustice. Sex Signals was successful and should be implemented again in the future, perhaps not only at Fall Welcome.