Frisky February: Q&A With the Office of Health Promotion’s Katelyn Cowen
This month, Frisky February is being held on the Syracuse University campus for the first time. It is a month-long series of events promoting sexual health and healthy relationships. Below, Katelyn U. Cowen, director of the Office of Health Promotion (OHP) and a member of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Sexual and Relationship Violence, talks about the goals of Frisky February.
01This is the first time Syracuse University has held Frisky February. What was the inspiration behind creating this month-long series of events?
While sexual health and healthy relationships have always been important to our office (Office of Health Promotion), it is our new staff and passionate students who are making Frisky February possible. Michelle Goode, our health promotion specialist focused on sexual and relationship violence prevention, started in our office last March. Michelle is leading our Frisky February efforts and brings passion and previous experience implementing a Sexual Health Awareness Month. We are also fortunate to have motivated students working with us, like Aaliyah Gatlin, a senior peer educator and Bedsider Inc. representative, to spearhead these new initiatives. Together with our office team and many collaborating partners, we are excited to roll out this first Frisky February!
02The topic of sex is often uncomfortable to discuss in public. Why is it necessary to have these conversations?
Sexual health can be uncomfortable to discuss in public and so is oftentimes an overlooked, but still important, part of a person’s health. We know many college students engage in sex (about 68 percent of college students who participated in the National College Health Assessment survey in spring 2016). We also know that students can encounter relationship difficulties in college, and this can sometimes impact students’ academic success. Students oftentimes come to college lacking the sexual health and healthy relationship knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions. Frisky February helps bring awareness and opportunities for students to engage in education around these issues.
03The Office of Health Promotion is the main co-sponsor of Frisky February, but who else is involved?
The keys to Frisky February’s success are the many campus and community partners we are collaborating with–especially our student partners. We are partnering with the PEEHRS (Peer Educators Encouraging Healthy Relationships and Sexuality) in our office, ACR Health, Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Tau Omega, Bedsider Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Femme Noire, Health Services, Onondaga County Health Department, Orange After Dark, SASSE (Students Advocating Sexual Safety and Empowerment), Sex S.Y.M.B.A.L.S., SUNY Upstate Medical University and the Upstate Public Health Interest Group.
04What is the main message that you hope members of the campus community walk away with from Frisky February?
Our goal as an office is to engage students in prevention, education and healthy behaviors, so that they may flourish at Syracuse University and beyond. I hope members of the campus community come away from Frisky February with accurate information about healthy and safe sexuality and relationships, opportunities for self-reflection about what they value, and how all of this can be applied to improve their overall health and well-being.
05How can members of the University community learn more about Frisky February?
More information can be found online.