Student group brings access and comfort to reproductive dialogue on campus
BY ANGELIQUE ARINTOK, STAFF WRITER
With just a few clicks on SUB 1’s Vengo machine, anyone on campus now has access to My Way morning-after pill emergency contraceptives.
After a year-long battle to get the pills on Mason’s campus that included back-and-forth conversation with campus officials and filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, students with Patriots for Choice were able to roll out the initiative in October.
“It was a lot of work [Preethi Srikanthan and I] had to follow through, but we finally got it in this semester,” said Kristin Gleichauf, president of Patriots for Choice.
The emergency contraceptive is available every day from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. The price is currently set at $30. No ID or third party is necessary for the Vengo purchase. However, it is critical for users to educate themselves on what the product is and what it is not.
According to a Patriots for Choice “myth buster” flyer, the pill “helps prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or birth control failure.” As opposed to common misconceptions, the contraceptive “is not an abortion pill,” and “will not work if [the user] is already pregnant.” The organization warns students that the pill “should not be a primary form of contraception.”
Providing students with discreet access to this product was key for the organization and its mission.
“We’re open to diverse views of what being pro-choice means, because we want to have an inclusive environment where that conversation can be fostered in a productive way,” Gleichauf said.
Members of Patriots for Choice understand the stigma behind abortion and the mere discussion of reproductive rights. Leading this movement on a college campus encourages free and open dialogue for all students.
“People are coming to college with all different kinds of backgrounds,” said Caroline Simpson, historian of Patriots for Choice. “Some people haven’t talked about sex at all—some people, they’re very comfortable with it.”
If sales in SUB 1 do well, the organization hopes to implement the morning-after pill in academic buildings around campus for 24/7 access to the product.
Considering the launch of emergency contraceptive pills on campus, Jul Delaune, vice president of Patriots for Choice said, “It’s nice to feel like you can make a difference in a world that is kind of going backward.”
“Going backward,” Delaune said, in part refers specifically to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation—an event she considers a threat to reproductive rights for Americans.
Aside from the vending machine initiative, Patriots for Choice aims to continue their reach and influence by hosting more events and activities.
On Oct. 25, they are screening a documentary called “No Más Bebés [No More Babies]” to showcase the intersectionality of immigration and reproductive issues.