Open liquor bottles. Condoms. Richmond students as far as the eye can see. Is this a raucous lodge? A raging apartment party? Not quite. It was the second annual Pleasurefest, and it was not held in a fraternity lodge, but rather in the Gottwald Science Center the afternoon of March 25.
Pleasurefest, hosted by the Wellness Education Bandits, is an event that educates students on making healthy choices with sex, drugs and alcohol.
"If I said we were doing a health fair, even as a health professional, that's boring," said Slade Gormus, a nurse at the Student Health Center and the founder of the Wellness Education Bandits. "We try not to hand out pamphlets. We try to educate on spot, but also make it fun. It's a health fair that's inappropriately and appropriately designed for college students."
The theme of this year's event was myth-busting.
"There's a lot of negative myths perpetuated on college campuses," said Whitney Schwalm, a junior who has been a member of the Bandits since her sophomore year. "If you cut back on your calories, then you don't need to exercise as much, or if you throw up after drinking you can sober up faster. We're working to bust those myths and provide people with accurate information."
At a station dubbed the "Safe Saloon," co-sponsored by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, students could compare their estimate of a shot of liquor to an actual shot. Another table featured beer goggles that simulated impaired vision from alcohol consumption.
Pleasurefest, attended by roughly 50 students, also featured massages, a magician, free italian ice and friendly dogs to combat stress in students' lives. "It's a great opportunity on campus," junior Michael Kimmel said.
To promote sexual health, students were offered free condoms and STI testing in the commons, but not everything at Pleasurefest had a traditional use. Next to the free condoms were "candoms," koozies that looked like giant condoms. Another station featured a dress made entirely out of unrolled, woven condoms.
The Wellness Education Bandits was formed as a club last year to encourage healthy lifestyle choices. Members of the club act as peer health advisers who learn accurate information from the health center and relay that information to students.
Contact reporter Danny Heifetz at firstname.lastname@example.org