Enlarged images of the clitoris, snacks and discussion of reproductive health and justice — Occidental’s Planned Parenthood Club has it all. The group, a branch of Planned Parenthood’s (PP) Generation Action Chapter, organizations representing PP on college campuses, gathered for their first general meeting of the academic year Tuesday, Sept. 27.
With 16 e-board members and 21 general members, the club has grown significantly since its start, a year ago. Sara Samaha ‘15 and Mary Atyemizian ‘15 conceived the idea for the club while interning with PP, and soon after organized a group of Occidental students to organize and run the PP club. Although the club is new, it has established a prominent presence on campus and is considered the most active Generation Action Chapter in California by PP.
Events and projects are delegated between three e-boards within PP club: the Political Advocacy Committee, LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Committee and the Safer Sex Committee. Between these specialized teams, the club serves PP’s larger mission: to provide health care, engage in political advocacy, educate communities and encourage research for medical advancements.
Director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley (PPPSGV), Rachael Rose-Stern, spoke on the importance of PP chapters working directly on college campuses.
“While reproductive justice issues affect people across ages and generations, college students are often highly impacted,” Rose-Stern said. “I believe that any great movement must be influenced by those who will take it over, and I look towards our college chapters to inform our work and to teach us how to be better at what we do and do what we do in a more inclusive way.”
Co-presidents Alex Morse (junior) and Chase McCain (senior) discussed the exciting year ahead for the chapter. The club is hosting a condom-bagging party Oct. 6, where the Occidental community can fill bags with lubricants and condoms that will be distributed to students. Similar bags were provided to first-year students during orientation, where they also received a comprehensive lesson in sexual education presented by PP. The biggest event for this upcoming semester is a Danceathon, Nov. 12, to raise funds for the club. The fundraiser will feature various performances, including pieces by Dance Production and PULSE.
PP club plans to continue well-received events from last semester, like Condom Fridays, the Menstruation Celebration and Pillow Talks, cozy nights filled with hot chocolate, pajamas and conversations surrounding topics that are often considered “taboo.” Last semester PP club held a talk surrounding bisexual visibility, and this year they will discuss the intersection of race and reproductive justice. A collaboration with Colleges Against Cancer is additionally in the works, to raise awareness for specifically breast, cervical and ovarian cancer.
The PP club at Occidental focuses on inclusivity by incorporating and destigmatizing different kinds of consensual sexual preferences, behaviors and actions and highlighting the intersectionality of women+’s issues to a broad range of reproductive health topics. They emphasize their aversion to scare tactics and shame and maintain a sex positive mentality, that promotes all consensual sex as good.
McCain discussed her personal experience with scare tactics in sexual education.
“For me, as a sex educator, my struggle is not using scare tactics but also wanting to show how common STIs are.” McCain said. “I don’t want to scare them with photos but it’s important to show the value of sexual health.”
Elizabeth Hribal (junior) is a transfer student and a new e-board member on the Safer Sex Committee this fall. She spoke on how refreshing it is to be at a school where sex and sexual health are more openly discussed. Coming from Georgetown, a Jesuit University, she and a group of students faced administrative blocks when trying to distribute contraception.
“You could only hand out condoms in certain places, we would have to put manilla envelopes on our doors with condoms in them and distribute them that way.” Hribal said. “We weren’t recognized by the school and had to deal with multiple administrative barriers. It was very taboo at Georgetown and I appreciate that the Occidental PP club is so active on campus.”
Rose-Stern is additionally appreciative of the work PP club is doing on campus and of the interest in reproductive justice at Occidental.
“PPPSGV is incredibly proud of the club at Occidental.” Rose-Stern said. “The students are tremendously involved, aware and smart about the work they do. Their innovative approach to organizing and educating is refreshing, empowering and effective.”
PP club is a resource available to all students on campus. They can be reached via their Facebook page, where they have an anonymous question box for sex tips, sex facts, questions, concerns and everything in between. They also are on Instagram at oxyplannedparenthoodclub. Their general meetings are open to all students and are Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. in Johnson 105.
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