SHAC: emergency contraception should be more accessible on campus | Columns
This article reflects the views of the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) and not those of Emerald Media Group. It has been edited by Emerald for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions on our content or campus issues to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sexual health is an essential aspect of general well-being and should be treated accordingly. Integrate health products into our built environment can enable important health-related decisions to become realistic options. The installation of a wellness machine in the Erb Memorial Union (EMU) will remove barriers to access and promote sexual positivity by making emergency contraception (EC) and general wellness products available in a central location with extended hours and high levels of student activity.
College students frequently compromise their personal health in the face of increasing pressures from classes, financial obligations, and extracurricular commitments. Sexual well-being, in particular, is particularly difficult to maintain due to factors such as social stigma, varying access to resources, increasing trends in STIs on college campuses, rape culture and lack of comprehensive sexual health education. College-aged students report having had unprotected vaginal sex at a rate of 50.9 percent, which increases the risk of unwanted pregnancy. EC is a protective resource for students who are experiencing birth control failure, have unprotected sex, or are looking for extra confidence and comfort.
Research also revealed that pregnancy fears are consistently one of the top three concerns of rape victims. Sexual violence is rampant on campus not only Across the country, but also at University of Oregon. We think that 1 in 5 students will be sexually assaulted and the statistics are even more alarming for women of color and people who identify as LGBTQIA +. It is important that survivors of sexual assault and violence have open access to EC.
Access to the EC is a matter of reproductive justice. Increasing access to CE on campus would empower UO students and contribute to a more HIV-positive community. The Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) supports the installation of a “wellness machine” on campus that would make CE and other wellness products more accessible to all students. The University Health Center (CHU) – as well as groups like the Women’s Center, Students for Choice, the Sexual Well-Being Promotion Team, the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Team and more – have already taken important steps to improve the sexual climate at UO by making a variety of educational and material resources available. The wellness machine would be another way for the university and ASUO to assert their investment in sexual well-being on campus.
Currently CHU promotes sexual well-being by providing safer sex items (condoms, lubricant, finger cots, gloves, dental dams), emergency contraceptives (DIU Plan B, Ella and Paragard), access to the STI testing clinic, HIV testing and educational programs (Sex Café and additional events at the Duck Nest). The opening hours of the CHU (9:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays) may make it difficult for students to access EC. Although Plan B is marketed as effective when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it has the maximum effectiveness when given as early as possible. It is important that EC be accessible in a building with extended opening hours and weekend access, as this is an urgent medication and often needed outside of opening hours.
Although CE can be purchased at community pharmacies, it can be difficult for students who do not have access to personal vehicles to find transportation off campus. The Plan B brand is also more expensive in community pharmacies, averaging $ 45 to $ 50 compared to the reduced price of $ 25 at the CHU pharmacy. Additionally, many community pharmacies store CEs in large, locked boxes which can make students exposed and / or uncomfortable buying in person. The idea of publicly buying EC can be stressful and prohibitive for individuals. The aforementioned access problems and social stigma are elements of the current barriers that make access to EC unduly difficult.
University campuses across the country have already prioritized to make emergency contraception more accessible. In 2012, the University of Shippensburg made Plan B available at a health product vending machine in response to the results of a survey where eighty-five percent of respondents supported the idea of making Plan B more accessible. Since then, vending machines with Plan B have been installed on campuses, in particular Stanford University, Pomona College, UC Davis, UCSB, Dartmouth College and more. The wellness area of Pomona College includes a vending machine that has everything from plan B to vibrators, and the University of Maryland offers Plan B for $ 15 at their 24/7 student convenience stores on campus. Despite Current legislation which allows CE to be sold without a prescription in Oregon, “wellness vending machines” that make CE more accessible have yet to be implemented in Oregon schools.
Our proposed wellness machine would distribute sexual health products (CE, pregnancy tests, menstrual hygiene products, and safer non-sexist sex supplies) as well as general wellness products (first aid products, anti-sex drugs). allergies and other over-the-counter medications). The wellness machine would be installed on the ground floor of the EMU in an isolated corridor between the duck’s nest and the KWVA studio. The UEM is an ideal location for the machine as it is a hub for student activity and a central building accessible by ADA with extended opening hours and weekend access . The hallway of our proposed location currently houses two vending machines, which would further standardize the use of our wellness machine.
The Wellness Machine circumvents concerns about the barriers and social stigma attached to these products by allowing students to privately and anonymously purchase sexual health and wellness supplies. We urge UO students, faculty and staff to sign our petition support this wellness machine and encourage Oregon’s higher education institutions to consider taking action to follow suit.