A couple weeks ago I was contacted by a male student who was concerned about his experience at Health Services. He had tried to purchase Emergency Contraception (EC) for a female friend. Health Services turned him away. The female student would have to be present for him to receive EC. He ended up trying three more pharmacies before finding EC and it was at a much higher price. The student contacted me to express his frustration — why should he be turned away from buying such an important product?
I addressed the student’s concern. I contacted Anita Barkin, director of Health Services, to discuss the student’s experience and how we could move forward on changing Health Services policy to enable male students to purchase EC. Megan Larcom (Student Senate Chair of Campus Life), Joanna Dickert (Housefellow), Anita, and I all sat down to talk about the current campus policy and this particular student’s concerns.
We discovered that the revised policy clearly stated that males of age could purchase EC at any time. Our meeting quickly moved from policy to implementation; we all helped to define what a purchase process should look like — how to inform students so that they’re more responsible sexual decision makers while still providing them with a convenient and affordable resource.
Under the new process, students will undergo a sexual history screening before receiving a packet with Plan B (EC), a condom, and information about all the forms of birth
So what does EC do? EC has been called the “best kept secret in medicine” by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It is the most effective way of preventing unintended pregnancies when another method of birth control has failed. If taken within 120 hours of sexual intercourse, EC can successfully prevent the development of a large number of pregnancies.
EC is not a replacement for other forms of birth control, including condoms. EC is much less effective than traditional methods of birth control. It is a last resort, not a replacement. Health Services offers EC to help students become more autonomous, informed, and responsible sexual decision makers. Now male students have that privilege, too.
All it took was one student and one meeting and the campus EC policy was changed. That’s the power of advocacy.
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