Selling Students Short by Abby Stubenhofer

Abby Stubenhofer is a former Talk student and rising junior studying English at Franklin and Marshall College.

I left the auditorium feeling utterly disappointed in my school and more generally in our American education system. The performance I had just witnessed confirmed my suspicion: I have a crucial understanding that my peers lack.

I couldn’t help but think, this absolutely shouldn’t be the case.

The lights went down, and seven hundred college freshmen quickly hushed their voices in anticipation for the pending “Freshman Orientation” presentation. We quickly learned that what we had assumed would be an assembly welcoming us to our first year of college was actually a series of skits about consent and sexual violence. The performers on stage gleefully acted out different college-inspired scenarios, where issues of consent, drinking, and boundaries were the topic of conversation.

While most students left the auditorium feeling enlightened like they had gleaned profound knowledge and wisdom in those short forty-five minutes, I felt that the performance didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of an extremely important topic, arguably – THE MOST important topic for a young adult audience.

There wasn’t enough information to actually be helpful – just enough to give people a false sense of security.

Why couldn’t we have an educator facilitate academic conversations about these topics in a classroom? Are the adults who run prestigious colleges uncomfortable with this topic? If so, why? How can we expect things to get better if we don’t actually TALK about them? These are the questions that I asked myself after that assembly – and, frankly, am still asking myself, almost two years later.

I’ve seen a ton of unnecessary pain and suffering as a result of people having limited information about relationships and sex. Couple that with the lack of a meaningful dialogue and booze, and we’re off to the races.

I understand that the education I received from Talk set me years ahead of most people my age. I firmly believe that the information students learn in Sam’s classroom should not be privileged knowledge.

So, when Sam offered me an internship this summer, what previously seemed like pushing on the ocean suddenly seemed tangible and within my ability to influence. Together, Leila, Emily, and I are helping Sam tackle some of Talk’s most challenging projects and in the process, are making Talk more accessible to all young people.

So, if there’s a college freshman reading this, who is also sincerely disappointed in the existing approaches to sexuality education, don’t be afraid to take action… You’ll feel really great once you do.