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Sexual Health Information Center expands operations

SHIC, in partnership with the SGA, has stepped in to partially fill the void left by the closing of CIFP.

By Louise Carhart

As a result of large scale overhaul in partnership with the Student Government Association (SGA), the Sexual Health Information Center (SHIC) has expanded its inventory, lowered prices and provided more educational opportunities for the student body. Since officially coming under the umbrella of SGA, SHIC’s budget has increased and their educators are now paid, a change that has greatly affected the organization and its impact on campus.

“SHIC is an amazing resource that I personally have loved working with,” said Toby Baratta ‘17, the Diversity and Outreach Coordinator (DOC). “I’m really happy that their budget has been raised because that’s what has allowed them to, first off, pay their employees and also be able to have binders.”

As SHIC has become more integrated into the structure of SGA, their programming and product inventory has expanded to fill in some of the gaps left by Student Health and Counseling Services (SHACS) and Central Iowa Family Planning (CIFP). SHACs often does not carry the products provided by SHIC and additionally does not provide emergency contraception, Monistat or alternative menstrual products. At SHACS, the main concern is safe sex, with free male and female condoms and lube provided. At SHIC, the hope is that their care will go beyond just safe sex.

The shift to a paid staff has made a large impact on the level of involvement and energy members are able to bring to the table.

“Our educators have more passion,” said Vivian Cheslack ‘19, a SHIC administrator. “There’s been improvements in our campus projects because people can give more time now. I definitely think since we’ve started working with SGA our presence on campus has increased, I think more people are talking about us .. I really care about the accessibility of these things and SGA has helped us make these things much more accessible.”

“It makes the system a lot more credible, because you can hold people accountable for going to the trainings and being there because it’s a job rather than a volunteer thing. I’m super pleased with that and I see that continuing for sure,” Baratta said. “I also see that the amount of activism regarding reproductive [and sexual health] care on this campus still needs to keep happening because, while SHIC is great, they don’t cover the town, they don’t cover a lot of the things that CIFP was and they shouldn’t have to, that’s not what SHIC is for.”

SHIC, in partnership with the SGA, has stepped in to partially fill the void left by the closing of CIFP.

The absence of CIFP has been felt since its closing in November, especially with the additional closure of its Newton facility. A shuttle to a Marshalltown family planning clinic has been started by the College, but traveling to and from Marshalltown is a burden on students, as well as on residents of Grinnell, who will not benefit from this service. Angela Voos, chief of staff, called the closing a “community crisis” in November, but so far plans to open a similar family planning clinic in the Grinnell area have not appeared.

As for now, access to cheap IUDs and Nexplanon is impossible in Grinnell, as these are resources are far beyond the capabilities of the students working at SHIC. Additionally, emergency contraception like Plan B is not available at SHACS and this office does not permit its formal sale at SHIC. In spite of these limitations, SHIC is focussing on expanding its education efforts and inclusivity.

“Right now … we have all these pamphlets, but a lot of them are outdated or within the gender binary, so what we’re working on right now is having SHIC educators write our own material,” Cheslack said. “Everyone is working on a topic and we’re going to make folders with them, and also hopefully get a magazine rack outside the center so people don’t have to come inside the center to get information. So that’s my big goal for the end of this semester and the beginning of next semester, to have that information that we as educators want to see and that students want to see.”

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