by Allison Davis
Elm Staff Writer
Maria Falzone, a professional comedian, has become an integral part of a first-year students’ orientation at Washington College helping to educate first year students about the “rules” surrounding sex.
She was first brought to campus by Bethanne Langrell, back in 2007. At the time, Langrell was the interim director of Student Activities.
Falzone’s program focuses on enhancing body image and self-esteem, increasing communication, and encouraging personal responsibility between partners. She also works to educate students on having safe sex and consuming alcohol safely.
Darnell Parker, the assistant dean of students and WC’s Title IX coordinator, said, “People were shocked by her presentation, at first…at a time when sexual assaults are such a prevalent issue, Falzone is great at starting a conversation.”
“Problems arise when there is a lack of communication and a partner assumes something,” he said “Falzone is able to provide alternate options and approaches to tough situations.”
This communication also proves important to reinforce the positive impact of reporting a sexual assault. Due to Falzone’s message, more students are speaking up about their experiences and there has been an increase in students seeking resources at WC.
On campus, the newest resource will be Laura Gibson, the newly-appointed director of Wellness and Prevention Education. Gibson, who is a trained sexual assault advocate, will work to coordinate sexual assault prevention education. She will also work to increase campus awareness regarding alcohol and other drugs.
One goal Parker hopes to get students to live a healthier lifestyle. He wants students to evaluate the risks of each situation and help both themselves and their friends. If a student needs medical attention due to alcohol or other drugs, WC has a medical amnesty policy that will reduce or eliminate punishment for that person and for the person who calls.
The majority of students find Falzone’s show to be enjoyable and look forward to her coming again this year. Some students continue to attend, even years after their orientation period.
While some find her message to be a bit over-the-top, senior Jeff Birkenmaier said, “her comedy is a better way to convey information about safe sex. Other orientation events can sometimes be dry or unentertaining, but Falzone keeps the audience constantly involved.”
Junior Ian Flinn described her show as “invigorating.” He enjoyed that she adds a new twist to what sex is all about.
Sophomore Hannah Sive said that Falzone made her more comfortable with her adjustment to college life.
Falzone notes that it’s okay to have sex and that it is also okay to not have sex. The overwhelming message empowers the students who attend, and encourages respect for all.
Falzone is coming back to campus on Sept. 8. She will be performing her comedy skit in Decker Theater at 8 p.m.