O3PLUS: A Townhall Experience

In its effort to enhance peer to peer conversations, the UoN O3 plus working group organized a student’s town hall tagged, ‘who do I talk to about sex?’

The student town hall pulled a full theatre of over 500 students from all the 11 faculties and campuses. The students were engaged in a 2 hour heated conversation on what is sex and what it is not and how it affects a student’s wellbeing while in campus.

Issues of childhood trauma, child abuse, rape, self-esteem, identity, gender based violence, the student’s right to information, were brought up through the different issues that were raised from the discussion.

This is a narration from one, Nicole Cheptoo who attended the town hall.

For the longest time, sex has been a taboo topic and the youth felt awkward speaking about this. It is for this reason that University of Nairobi in conjunction with UNESCO through the O3Plus project came up with the Townhall event where the students would talk about the subject under the theme ‘Who do I talk to about sex?’

What is sex? Who taught you about sex? How does sex affect your life in campus? These are the questions posed to the audience by the moderator.

After the question and answer session from the moderator to the audience, it was time for the members of the audience to ask the panelists questions and the panelists to clarify any myths from what they heard from the students.

One of the students asked the panelists how they can bring about comprehensive sexual education to the syllabus instead of having the HIV common unit where students just study it for the sake of their grades.

As the interactions continued, Prof.Walter Jaoko, one of the panelists said on matters rape, “the way a lady dresses should not be the reason why they act on instinct but they should always act on reason.” He also urged victims of the assault to speak out so that they can be assisted in various ways including counselling so as to help them overcome.

Dr. Odula Caroline, a reproductive health specialist, said, “it is your right as a person to choose when, where, how, with whom, place and time to consent in engaging in sexual activities. It is also your right not to participate,’’ she said.

“In addition,” she said, “it is your right to have the right information about contraceptives whether they are permanent method or a temporary one and also about sexual transmissible infections which can brew into infertility or subfertility.”

The assistant Dean of students, Lucy Gikundi, “it is important for students to have safe spaces to talk about these issues freely because we have acknowledged its importance to students in campus.”

In her contribution as a panelist she mentioned the need for peer counsellors and that the office of the Dean of Students is looking to train peer counsellors in partnership with the Rada Mobile App.

In his closing remarks, the Dean of Students, reiterated the need for the students to have a safe space to talk about issues that affect them on campus and not just on Main campus alone but across all campuses.

In attendance was the university’s chaplain Rev.Hosea Mitei.