Activists demand accessibility to contraceptives
The Santa Clara
April 19, 2018
Though it was a silent protest, the message of student activists was clear: Santa Clara must practice condom sense.
Led by People United for Reproductive Justice (PURR), the silent protest aimed to increase awareness about the need for contraceptives on campus to promote safe sex practices.
According to the Center for Disease Control, people from 15 to 24 years old account for almost half of the 20 million people diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases.
“We know that when we go up against a school tied to the Catholic Church, change is not going to happen overnight,” said junior Hannah Sisney, the President of PURR. “We would at least like to have the discussion start happening out in the open. Maybe starting the discussion now can help future generations.”
According to this year’s student handbook, Santa Clara as a Jesuit university provides educational resources regarding contraception and sexual health but does not provide condoms or prescribe contraceptive medications.
Junior Gayatri Krishnan, PURR’s Secretary and Treasurer, said that Cowell Center provides comprehensive information regarding health-related issues and offers services like pap smears. Likewise, she believes prevention of sexually transmitted infections, through access to contraceptives, should be treated as a health concern.
Sisney said that the protest is intended to be educational for students due to confusion over Santa Clara’s policy regarding birth control prescriptions and distribution of condoms. She said there is strong student support of this initiative. The protest was silent as a way to raise concerns in a respectful manner, explained Sisney.
“We are trying to find a way to be impactful with our message but not be disruptive,” Sisney said.
Krishnan said that people’s opposing views could be based on religious concerns and accordingly, they do not want to upset people on campus.
Junior Maren Stratte participated in the protest because she believes reproductive health is an important issue. She said that sexually transmitted infections are common among students.
“Reproductive health and reproductive rights is a very important issue to me—I feel like STI’s are becoming normalized,” Stratte said. “I’ve talked to friends who view getting chlamydia as a right of passage. We should be protecting our bodies, our health. Santa Clara doesn’t give us many options or resources.”
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