Washington Hall rang with laughter Monday evening from first-year Moreau First Year Experience students who had gathered to watch and participate in Sex Signals, an annual improvisational comedy show sponsored by the Gender Relations Center (GRC) that aims to educate and inspire student discussion about sex, relationships and consent.The show was introduced to Notre Dame five years ago, but it is the first year the GRC is partnering with the Moreau program to allow students to receive ten extra credit points for their attendance, GRC director Christine Gebhardt said in an email. Poncho Ortega | The Observer Jessamyn Fitzpatrick, left, and Vincent Banks of Catharsis Production perform during ‘Sex Signals’ Monday night. The Gender Relations Center program aims to create a culture of consent.“This year we revised the design of the first two weeks to be more conversation based and included the opportunity for Sex Signals, which uses humor, case studies and audience participation,” Gebhardt said. “It is our hope that the extra credit will give students an incentive to make the event a priority, as it is our institution’s way of acknowledging how the conversation should not merely happen in class but throughout our campus.”Vincent Banks and Jessamyn Fitzpatrick of Catharsis Productions — the Chicago-based performance group running Sex Signals, launched into a discussion about sexual relationships in a campus setting —“How many of you had sex ed classes in high school?” Banks asked the audience.A majority of students raised their hands.“What did you learn in those classes?” he asked.Students shouted out their answers.“Did anyone learn how to have sex. — other than from porn” Banks said half-jokingly in response.Throughout their hour and 15 minute performance, Banks and Fitzpatrick interacted with their audience as they acted out three hypothetical scenarios representative of real-life situations — flirting at a party, sexual harassment at a gym and dealing with people who make excuses for sexual assault in the name of friendship. The acts were used as teaching tools to break stereotypes, explain gender spectrums, clearly define consent, fight against victim-blaming and encourage bystander intervention.Towards the end of the program, the performers called for students to “raise the bar” on campus by making a culture of consent so normal that it would force those who do not ask for it to stand out.First year Danielle Slevin attended the performance with her friend and — fellow first year — Helton Rodriguez.“I felt that it was really empowering and really moving, especially to be in a room full of kids who might have experiences similar to mine or who feel the way I do. … I have friends who have been affected, whether it’s being uncomfortable at parties, or things that have escalated to more serious situations that were usually induced by alcohol,” Slevin said. “It’s a serious thing that is present on this campus, and it’s something that should be spoken about.”Rodriguez, who participated during the show, said he reflected on how the issues presented in the show were present in his life.“Whenever I have girls over at my dorm to study, I always have to ask if they’re comfortable walking home alone,” he said. “And it’s just kind of a sucky part of life.”He feels that Notre Dame’s strong Catholic identity can reinforce values preventing sexual assault, but also can make the topic a taboo to talk about.“I think, regardless, it’s problem on campus,” he said. “You can argue whether or not it’s harder or easier to talk about, but you have to talk about it.”Editor‘s note: A previous version of this article used the incorrect gender pronouns when referring to a student on first mention. The Observer regrets this error.Tags: Gender Relations Center, Moreau First Year Experience, Sex Signals, sexual assault
…as frustration grows over bank, cambio shortages…Govt maintains scarcity contrivedBoth Finance Minister Winston Jordan and Governor of the Central Bank of Guyana, Dr. Gobind Ganga, are maintaining that there is no shortage of foreign currencies in Guyana.Dr. Ganga has said that despite stern warnings from authorities, businesses are suspected to be hoarding foreign currencies, and commercial banks and cambios are claim shortages in order to cause customers to resort to paying exorbitant rates for foreign currencies, even purchasing elsewhere in light of the contrived scarcity.And Finance Minister Winston Jordan recently announced on a radio programme that the Central Bank has no record of shortages at commercial banks. “The Governor has assured me that he doesn’t know anything about that, because the banks haven’t approached him for foreign exchange,” Jordan stated on the radio programme.Usually, when commercial banks experience a shortage, they turn to the Bank of Guyana to purchase the currency to meet the demands.Jordan recently announced that the foreign exchange reserves at the Bank of Guyana are in excess of US$600 million, but commercial banks and cambios across the country continue to turn away customers, claiming a shortage of the US dollar; and based on the findings of this newspaper’s investigations, popular cambios are turning away regular patrons who are interested in purchasing foreign currencies. This has resulted in businesspersons and the average Guyanese being forced to buy foreign currencies at exploitative rates.Around the city, money changers have already raised their rates for the US dollar to G$220, although the rate currently hovers at G$210.HoardingDuring the mentioned radio programme, the Finance Minister said he believes there is a deliberate attempt to starve the economy of foreign currencies.Junior Finance Minister Jaipaul Sharma has also opined that commercial banks and cambios are hoarding foreign currencies in order to get better prices from preferred markets.He told Guyana Times on Saturday: “Maybe they tell the customers ‘no’ so they could get a higher rate. Maybe they are keeping it for some friend or some special customer.”Nonetheless, he does not believe the situation warrants a probe. According to the Junior Finance Minister, Government cannot control what the commercial banks and cambios tell their customers.QuestionsQuestions are now being raised about why commercial banks and cambios are turning away local customers interesting in purchasing US currency, and why the banks and cambios are not informing the Central Bank if they claim a shortage exists.Sharma explained that the only way Government can launch an investigation is if commercial banks visit the Central Bank with the supportive documents to prove they are experiencing a shortage but are being denied opportunity to purchase foreign currencies.The Junior Finance Minister emphasised that no commercial bank has visited the Central Bank claiming a shortage.WarningGovernment had signalled its intention to move sternly against businesses hoarding foreign currencies, because such a practice has the potential to destabalise the economy.Jordan contemplates the possibility that hoarding is being practised in order to create depreciation in domestic currency.He also noted that some exporters and importers are conducting mutual foreign exchange transactions outside of the exchange market structure.