Oberlin’s Sexual Information Center will be increasing access to emergency contraceptives, pregnancy care, and important transportation services, in addition to hosting a program called the Oberlin Doula Collective, which was founded last summer.
The SIC was recently given 1,000 units of emergency contraceptive by the company Vagisil and is in the process of distributing it this semester.
“We have it for free in the Science Center and Mudd [library] as well as in our office so that it’s available for students to easily grab,” said College junior and SIC staffer Amanda Stavis.
The SIC has established a number of ways to distribute the emergency contraceptive, including giving staffers buttons that read “Need Plan B? Ask me!”
According to College sophomore and SIC staffer Maya Walsh-Little, Vagisil offered to send the SIC 3,000 units of emergency contraceptive.
“We don’t have enough space for that many units, so we only took 1,000,” Walsh-Little said.
Many students have noticed the plastic boxes of free emergency contraceptive around campus.
“It definitely put the SIC more on my map,” College first-year Katie Kunka said. “Knowing that they have [emergency contraceptive] is a big deal for me. I think that the SIC is sort of — at least in my mind — sometimes underutilized, and now that I know that they have more resources than I originally thought — that’s such a good thing.”
Some students were happily surprised to see the SIC’s new resource.
“It blew my mind, I didn’t know that was even allowed or how they got the money for it,” College first-year Sofia Zarzuela said. “No one has money in college to pay for Plan B.”
Another new initiative at the SIC is the Oberlin Doula Collective. Founded by College senior and SIC staffer Elana Rosenberg, the ODC will provide support for people who are getting abortions. The organization is volunteer-run, and aims to “empower pregnant individuals through trauma-informed, gender-inclusive, and body-positive support work.” The SIC is hoping to have the Doula Collective up and running by next year.
The ODC will co-host an abortion doula training event with the Wesleyan Doula Project.
“This year, we’re having another college who has their own doula collective come and do it with us,” said Walsh-Little. “The training is important because a lot of the work that we do at the SIC is through supporting other people … abortion doula training is just one way to be a support person that’s related to reproductive health”.
The training will be held on April 6 in Wilder Hall room 115, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Applications to take part in the training are due on March 8 and can be found on the event’s Facebook page.
The SIC also recently started a transportation program. College sophomore and SIC staffer Talia Putnoi explained that the program provides rides to medical clinics for those who could not otherwise access them.
“You can sign up if you need a ride to a clinic or an appointment and you don’t have access to a car,” Putnoi said. “You can fill out a Google form, and there’s a list of people who can drive you to a clinic nearby.”
The SIC is structured differently from many other campus organizations. It is a non-hierarchical organization, which means there is no chair, co-chair, or other executive position. They make decisions through a collaborative process, without one specific person in charge.
“We collaborate on all big decisions, and we collaborate to decide which projects we work on,” Stavis said.
While non-hierarchical, the organization does still have formalized structure.
They do, however, have some persistent, foundational programming. These include SexCo, an ExCo that aims to give students an in-depth, inclusive understanding of sex and sexual health that many high schools don’t provide.
The SIC also maintains a store located in Wilder Hall.
“We have a store where we either offer for free or [on a sliding scale] safer sex supplies and gender-affirming products,” Stavis said.