Honors Program hosts 'Sex and Candy', raises awareness about sexual assualt

Students pose with a banner created during the Sex and Candy event Tuesday night in Shippee Residence Hall. (Ginikachi Anosike/The Daily Campus)

Sex and Candy? What’s not to love? This campus event was probably not what you’d expect from the title. It was a group activity style event that used candy as a central theme to help students wrap their heads around and provoke conversation surrounding sexual abuse on college campuses across the country.

Sexual abuse can be a difficult topic to discuss, especially with first year college students. So in order to provoke students to get involved, the presenters used candy as an incentive and several metaphors to help warm up the audience and make connections about sexual assault.

Upperclassmen Megan Pattoli, Emily Casidy and Paige Holden intentionally hosted the event during the month of February. Despite the obvious romantic connotations of this month, it is also teen dating violence awareness month. Their objective: to get students thinking about a real problem that students in that very room have had to deal with.

The group activity that was most central to the event was a ‘Heads-up-7-up’ style game where volunteers would place different starburst in peoples hands to represent statistics on sexual abuse like how often people get drugged with roofies typically by someone they knew. Just like the players of the game, they tended to be biased toward interacting with the people they knew.

“It was pretty fun and I learned a lot. Some of the statistics surprised me. I didn’t think the difference in percentage of people who were willing to intervene would be so great,” 2nd semester undeclared exploratory major Andre Ifill said in reaction to the statistic about bystander intervention.

The hosts explained that statistically, 80 percent of people would intervene in a situation where someone needed help to escape sexual assault where as only 20 percent of people would intervene if they were in the same situation but with a group of friends.

“The turnout was great. I think we had over 45 people show up tonight. Unfortunately I only made 25 goodie bags because I didn’t think people would come,” said Pattoli.

Some of the more powerful statistics were 1 in 5 people on college campuses have been a victim of sexual abuse, and that 1 in 4 women on college campuses will be sexually assaulted by the time they graduate. These threatening facts were accompanied by light hearted videos relating to consent, like the famous tea consent video correlating the acts of offering and making tea for someone to offering and performing any sexual acts with another person.

“Most of these facts I was already aware of, but it was certainly a fun way to get across a good reminder of these startling facts,” undecided engineer Sara Ayers said at the end of the presentation.

After the group activities ended, students were encouraged to pledge against sexual violence by signing their name with a hand print on a banner displaying all the words: “These Hands Don’t Hurt.”

The banner will be on display in the main lobby of Buckley Hall as a friendly reminder to the first year honor student residents that despite these frightening statistics, there are Huskies that have pledged never to harm their fellow students.


Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.wood@uconn.edu.