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14th November 2012

Student 101: The Safer Sex Ball

Victoria explores the controversy behind Exeter University’s ‘Safer Sex Ball’

Arguably the most talked about event in The University of Exeter’s calendar is the Safer Sex Ball – SSB for short.

The ball has been voted as one of FHM’s Top 100 things to do before you die. Around 4,000 students attended last years ball at West Point Arena demonstrating its huge popularity.

As its name would indicate the SSB is all about promoting safe sex, free condoms are given out as well as other safe sex literature. The aim of the SSB is to raise awareness of sexual health issues, whilst raising money for charities such as The Eddystone Trust – a Devon based HIV charity.

Perhaps the most controversial part of the evening are the costumes, or rather lack of them! Chris, a student at Exeter University, explained that students attend the ball wearing as little as possible. 2011’s theme was Fantasia, he himself told me he went as a Greek god.

As with a lot of student activities the Exeter ball has often been frowned upon as being too promiscuous and irresponsible. The message of the SSB is that it’s fine to love sex, but it is important to do so safely. Whether people choose to acknowledge it or not, sex is a huge part of university life, as such an event that promotes safe sex seems like one that is worth keeping! The ball provides students with an excuse to let themselves go in a way that wouldn’t normally be acceptable.

A friend told me she can’t wait to get a sexy costume for this year, she wouldn’t normally be one to go out wearing next to nothing but when in Rome… or rather when in Exeter get naked.

Surely there can’t be any harm in an event that raises awareness about sexual health issues and raises money for charity? If you don’t approve then as another student explained: ‘You don’t have to go! Just because you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean you have to stop other people enjoying themselves!’

If you don’t approve then don’t attend, but you’ll be missing out on what sounds like the party of the year with previous acts including Jaguar skills and Tinchy Strider… University of Manchester’s SSB where are you?



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