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The ABCs to S-E-X: A Guide to Sexual Health and Safety

By Kurana Doobay

Maybe you’re in a long-term relationship and want to switch things up, or maybe you’re meeting someone for the first time, or maybe you’re seeing your sneaky-link for the third time this week. Whether you’re getting some V or D this Valentine’s Day, make sure you know the ABCs to sexual safety: A for Agreement, B for Boundaries and C for consent.

First letter, A, is for Agreement. The first step to maintaining sexual safety is to make sure everyone is on the same page. It can be as simple as, “Wanna have sex?” If the answer is not a solid yes, at least your mattress will stay solid.

Now that all parties are in agreement, it’s time to learn about B for Boundaries. Carol Lucas, director of Adelphi’s counseling and support services, said, “Setting boundaries in sexual situations can be awkward, but setting boundaries means deciding what you are comfortable with and communicating this to your partner.”

As college students, it is naturally quite uncomfortable to have serious conversations, but they are imperative to maintaining a safe and healthy sex life. If you don’t feel comfortable having sensitive conversations about sex with a partner, maybe it’s time to reevaluate who you’re having sex with.

Lucas said, “Knowing what you like and don't like can take time and exploration. Think of your boundaries as a road map for sexual pleasure and emotional wellbeing within your relationship.”

After figuring out that road map, you can find yourself looking at the letter C, which is for consent. Adelphi’s “Sexual Health Safety” brochure explains sexual health as, “knowing, voluntary and clear permission by word or action to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.”

To give consent, you and your partner must be sober (not to the point of incapacitation), fully conscious and of age. It also states, “Consent to some sexual contact cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity… Consent given on a prior occasion does not constitute consent on a subsequent occasion… Consent can be withdrawn at any time during a sexual encounter. If that happens, the other person must stop immediately.”

Also remember, the absence of no is NOT the presence of yes.

After you’ve gone through A, B and C of safety, the next step is making sure you’re staying healthy.

Adelphi’s student health services encourages you to be educated about your sexual health resources to support safe sex behaviors and reduce sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) and HIV transmission. The staff of the Health Services Center respects an individual’s choice and continuously engages in education to maintain high levels of self-empowerment and choice. The center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support questions on sexual health, prescribe and advise on use of contraceptives and to address any other questions.

The Student Health Services Center in Waldo Hall provides the following resources to empower students to maintain safe sexual health:

  • Distributing free barrier method contraceptives; 24-hour vending machines are available.

  • Emergency contraception is available for a decreased cost (24-hour vending machines are available). No visit or prescription is required.

  • The Health Services Center offers free HIV testing, as well as HIV prevention with PrEP.

  • Find more resources on the Sexual Health page of the health center website,

  • Find resources specific to LGBTQ+ health and wellness there too.

The absence of agreement, boundaries and/or consent makes for an unsafe sexual environment, which can lead to a sexual assault. Leah Saxetin, Title IX coordinator and director of equity and compliance at Adelphi, said, “Sexual assault is gender neutral and describes all forms of sexual violence that are committed without consent, or by the use or threat of force, or where the complainant is incapable of giving consent.”

Adelphi University prohibits and seeks to eliminate all forms of sexual misconduct, which includes sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

In the event that you are sexually assaulted, it is important to go to a safe place and contact the proper authorities right away. There are several safe and supportive options to do so.

  • For immediate, urgent assistance on campus, contact the Office of Public Safety so they can quickly assist you and provide appropriate safety and security measures. Dial 5 on any campus phone or call 516-877-3507. You can also call 911 for assistance for law enforcement.

  • If your assault takes place off campus, you can still report it to Adelphi’s Office of Public Safety by calling 516-877-3507. Or you can dial 911 for assistance from law enforcement.

  • If you are more comfortable approaching a trusted mentor at Adelphi, do so immediately and ask them to help you involve Public Safety or the Title IX office.

Remember that timely medical care is of the utmost importance for you. Adelphi’s Student Health Services can assess a student’s immediate needs and make all necessary medical referrals. Additionally, try to be mindful of preserving possible evidence. You can directly contact the Title IX coordinator and director of equity and compliance, Leah Saxtein at 516-877-4819 or by emailing If you don’t want to make a report, you can still, always, choose to speak with someone confidentially at three different centers on-campus:

  • Student Counseling Center, 516-877-3646

  • Health Services Center, 516-877-6000

  • Interfaith Center, 516-877-3113

If you are off-campus, or if you are not comfortable speaking with any members of the Adelphi community, there are other resources available for you in the community.

Safety is sexy; at least way sexier than STIs. Remember your ABCs this Valentine's Day, and every other day of the year, to make sure you’re maintaining healthy and safe sex.

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