Beginning on Monday, Oct. 16, students can access emergency contraceptives and other reproductive health items through a free and confidential program sponsored by the national organization Emergency Contraceptives for Every Campus, which is working to create more accessibility to contraception methods.
If you find yourself, or someone you know, needing the emergency contraceptive Plan B pill, individuals can now go to either the Gender and Sexuality Center or Women's Student Services and retrieve it anonymously for no cost.
Another option to get the pill is to fill out a confidential online form to request a volunteer to give you the Plan B in person, according to social relations and policy, comparative cultures and politics, and women's and gender studies senior Mackenzie Lovell.
“We want to publicize it and make sure people who need it can get it,” Lovell said. “As long as we have the supply, we’re going to try to do what we can to get it to people.”
Chemistry education senior Rylee Warner said that having the option of a volunteer meet-up to get the Plan B is meant to make the pill as accessible as possible, no matter when it is needed.
"If it’s the weekend and those offices aren’t open, or if it’s the middle of the night and the offices aren’t open, or if they don’t feel comfortable going in person to one of the offices to get the emergency contraceptive, they will fill out our Google form, we will get an email about it," Warner said. "Then we can set up a location where we can both meet."
Public health master’s student Harsna Chahal said that this aspect of the program is crucial because Plan B needs to be taken within 72 hours to maximize its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy.
"Not only is there a time schedule behind this but also accidents happen," Chahal said. "Sometimes your method of protection doesn’t work.”
Warner said that making Plan B free is another vital part of making emergency contraceptives accessible because cost is a limiting factor for many college students.
At a typical pharmacy, a Plan B pill costs $50. At the MSU Clinic, the pill costs $15. However, the MSU pharmacy is no longer located on campus, now located on Hagadorn Road, making it less accessible for many students.
“Some students can't even afford the $15, and a lot of students can't afford $50,” Warner said. “So it's really important to have this be accessible and affordable.”
If a student is uncomfortable asking for Plan B directly, they can also request a ‘wellness kit’ at the Gender and Sexuality Center and Women’s Student Services office, said Chahal. The wellness kits contain other reproductive health products in addition to the Plan B, including internal and external condoms and dental dams, if requested.
“It’s to ensure students are comfortable,” she said. “Not only are we trying to increase accessibility, but also increase education on contraception. There's a lot of misinformation out there.”
Law student Julia Walters said that before the program was launched, she recognized the need for accessible emergency contraceptives on MSU’s campus.
"There are these Reddit threads that exist out there from relatively recent times of students posting, 'Oh my gosh, I'm freaking out, where can I go get Plan B?' It's ridiculously expensive," Walters said.
Walters said this program is needed because Plan B is in high demand among many students.
Lovell said this program is considered the first step in a larger initiative of creating and placing Plan B vending machines on campus.
“It's just us trying to get this resource out while we can while we're trying to advocate for a Plan B vending machine," she said.
Lovell said that this ‘pilot program’ will demonstrate the need for increasing accessibility of emergency contraceptives and other safe sex products on MSU’s campus.
“This is our chance to show the administration and the Board of Trustees that this is something students want," Lovell said. "If we can show that there is a need for emergency contraceptives on campus, then we can directly prove to the Board of Trustees that this is what we need."
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Warner said that decreasing the stigma around sex and sexual health is one of the main goals of this program.
“People are having sex, it's happening, and it's not something to be ashamed of; it’s not something to hide if you feel comfortable talking about it,” Warner said. “Emergency contraceptives are something that people do need. We just want to create that resource for people and lower the stigma and just talk about it because it's important to talk about."
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