Meghan Downey

By William & Mary

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Orientation and the Discourse on Sexual Health at William & Mary

I intend to study the discourses about sex and sexual health that occurs during William and Mary’s New Student Orientation period using a lens derived from the work of Michel Foucault. Foucault was a post-structuralist who questioned assumptions about society and how power functioned within it. In The History of Sexuality, Volume One, Foucault considers how institutions of authority used sexuality to create relationships of power, and specifically the importance of discourse in creating these relationships. 
I want to observe the very specific discourses that occur on William & Mary’s campus during New Student Orientation. During this five-day period, Orientation Aides (OAs) help acclimate new students to the College’s environment. Orientation Aides are incredibly important to the transition experience, as they guide new students onto campus and into the William & Mary community. In order to study the discourses surrounding sexual health created during this time, I wish to survey the Orientation Aides for the Fall 2016 Orientation period. I will ask them about the conversations they had about sexual health, what those conversations consisted of, and how they were facilitated. I will analyze their responses with a Foucauldian lens. 

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