Capstone documentary addresses sex education in schools

By Rachel Diebel, A&E Writer

At the end of every year, Pacific Lutheran University seniors are always scrambling to put the finishing touches on their capstone papers and present them.

This year, a few women’s and gender studies majors are doing things a little differently.

The women’s and gender studies capstone class has spent its semester putting together a documentary titled “Doing it With the Lights On.”

The documentary features interviews with professionals, college students and high school students about their experiences with sex education and an accompanying website, available at, that provides helpful links and personal stories from the capstone class.

“I think the topic is relevant to everybody in the class,” senior Ariel Roberts said. “Everybody either gets sex education or they don’t, and that has some sort of influence on their development of healthy sexuality and understanding of healthy relationships.”

Several members of the class received training sessions from Thurston County public television in Olympia.  They learned how to use cameras, lights and microphones for their interviews.

“It was a challenge,” senior Audrey Lewis said.  “It was a good thing we all had a nice sense of humor.  It was a lot of work.”

The most difficult part of the process, the students said, was making the documentary fit with the visions, ideas and interests of the entire class and still producing a cohesive film.

“It would have been really easy to set it up so that it was only one person’s perspective of what the film should be,” Lewis said. “We really wanted to make sure that didn’t happen.  We wanted to incorporate everyone’s vision.”

The students chose to make a documentary instead of doing a more traditional paper because they thought it would be more accessible as a learning tool.

“It’s more accessible to the general public than a paper where we use academic language and cite deep feminist theories you’d have to have taken college classes on to understand,” Lewis said. “Everyone can watch a documentary and relate and understand people who are very similar to themselves.”

The students said their goal with the documentary is to make it a resource on campus for anyone who wants to show it, for a class, club or other purpose.

LuteFit sponsored part of the budget to make the film, and so the film will be made available to them as well. Students of the capstone class also said they harbor hopes of entering it into film festivals, as well as putting it online.

Apart from learning how to use camera equipment and how to edit, the class learned many things about sex education they said surprised them.

“I didn’t realize quite how inconsistent sexual education was,” Roberts said. “There isn’t any consistent standard. Even in our class, some people had phenomenal experiences and some people didn’t learn anything at all.”

Junior Selina Mach agreed, saying, it was interesting “to see even in Washington State, how different everyone’s [sexual education] experience is.”

“Doing it With the Lights On” will premiere for the first time on May 16 at 7 p.m. in the Cave.

It will play again at the women’s and gender studies capstone presentation on May 23.

The film will then be available for use by anyone who is interested.

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