New student group to focus on improving relationships, sexual health

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor

A student organization dedicated to building healthy relationships will provide access to reproductive and mental healthcare resources and host conversations about young adult life during its first semester this fall.

GW Clearminds – which student leaders said the University approved as a student organization earlier this month – plans to host weekly meetings to discuss strengthening friendships and sexual interactions and challenging scenarios like coming out, and offer access to resources like pregnancy tests. The organization’s leaders said the group has attracted about 30 members so far, and they hope students feel encouraged to engage in conversations that are sometimes seen as “taboo” and learn tips on navigating college relationships.

Isabella Calamari Caprez – a junior and co-president of Clearminds – said the organization is planning events for the fall and spring semesters, like talks with guest speakers including a sexologist and an OB-GYN to speak to members about sexual health. She said Clearminds is also planning collaborations with on-campus student organizations to organize events like a sex-ed day to give away sexual health kits with Plan B or menstruation gift baskets with the Residence Hall Association in February.

She said all members will receive access to the group’s shared Google Drive where students can find links to mental health research, free sexual health resources and support groups.

“A lot of times, people don’t know how to navigate these friendships and relationships that they have during college, and we like to have a lot of topics that I think people have a harder time discussing or know where to find information for,” she said.

Calamari Caprez said the group’s weekly meetings will require each participant to sign a confidentiality contract to ensure all personal experiences and information stays within the discussions to create a safe space where members can freely share their stories and opinions.

She said the organization’s leaders will refer a student to GW Counseling and Psychological Services if they express thoughts of harming themselves or others. 

“A big thing is that we have to make sure everyone knows we’re not therapists,” Calamari Caprez said. “We’re here to allow a space and we don’t want people to harm anyone or harm themselves.”

Rindi Tobin – a junior and the other co-president of Clearminds – said she was first inspired to promote mental and sexual health resources through the new student organization after the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade in June. She said she researched which states would continue to protect abortion rights and which options for reproductive and sexual health would be available to her once she returned to D.C. for the fall 2022 semester.

Abortion in D.C. is currently legal at any stage of pregnancy, but the District is more vulnerable to restricted abortion access without statehood.

“It was like, well what would happen if I’m down in D.C., and I don’t have a way to get birth control or go to an appointment, an OB-GYN or anything like that,” Tobin said. “I really was kind of concerned.”

Tobin said Clearminds will have designated “conversation leaders” who will be briefed on research relating to the meeting’s topics, like prostate health and navigating sexual relationships with disabilities, and will guide the discussions and field questions. 

“These conversation leaders will encourage the people who come to our meetings to share any questions, experiences, whatever that may be, of course, as long as they’re comfortable,” Tobin said. 

Edy Koenigs – a junior and member of Clearminds – said she joined the student organization to find ways to improve her friendships to combat the isolation she felt on GW’s campus. She said she hopes Clearminds is able to offer students who were unable to receive sex education before coming to GW useful information about sexual health and wellbeing. 

“It’s giving a space for people to go and be able to speak about it and not feel like it’s an adult they’re talking to,” Koenigs said. “It’s like talking with a friend.”

Koenigs said she hopes to implement advice from her discussions with Clearminds to better both her relationship and friendships she encounters in the future.

“Even being able to recognize ‘Oh, what is healthy? What should you expect in a friendship?” she said. “ I think, personally, something I never really learned is how to determine when something’s not healthy.”

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