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SHIC faces restructuring

Sexual Health Information Center will no longer distribute sex toys to students for free. (Levi Magill)

Though nearly a month of the fall semester had passed, the student-staffed Sexual Health Information Center (SHIC) remains closed following a reorganization effort by its parent department, Student Health and Wellness (SHAW).

The fate of the reenvisioned center was on ice by the end of last spring and staff have yet to be hired to run the center. Handshake position applications only became open to students on Aug. 30. The center is set to reopen once hiring and the revised mission statement are complete, and it will again operate out of its office in the lobby of Main Hall.

Under the new vision, SHIC would still function as the primary peer-to-peer point of contact on campus for students seeking information on sexual health, but would no longer distribute sex toys. SHIC will continue to distribute Plan B.

Liability represented a clear issue at SHIC, according to Terry Mason, dean for health and wellness and a leader in the effort to restructure SHIC.

Mason said this issue is especially clear with Plan B, an over-the-counter emergency contraceptive with specific instructions for use. If SHIC employees give recommendations or information beyond the manufacturer’s information, Mason said, SHAW could be liable, since none of the employees are licensed medical professionals.

The free distribution of sex toys also represented an issue of liability. “The concern is that sex toys, if misused or not cared for properly, can lead to bacterial infections that could be sexually transmitted,” Libby Eggert `25, who worked at SHIC last year, wrote in an email to the S&B. 

Eggert added that SHIC employees believed that, if students were warned of the risks and instructed on proper use, liability would be removed.

Mason said there was an alternative – if SHIC were to have a display of sex toys and pleasure devices and let students purchase them themselves elsewhere. 

Mason wrote SHIC’s new draft mission statement and sent it to SHIC staff last year. The new statement emphasizes the center’s function as the primary peer-to-peer point of contact on campus for students seeking information on sexual health, according to Mason. Mason declined to supply the S&B with this draft.

Unlike a previous proposed statement written by SHIC employees in April, the new mission statement makes no reference to the distribution of sex toys, Plan B or resources for abortion care, according to Mason. Mason highlighted that the general outline for SHIC’s goals does, however, include the proposed alternatives moving forward. 

According to Eggert, SHAW originally approached SHIC employees to help craft a new mission statement, but the resulting statement was not approved by SHAW. Instead, they opted to draft a new statement themselves. 

“We stand by the mission statement we presented to SHAW,” Eggert wrote. “I’m sure that we would have updated it given the chance … it was not a high priority to get it fixed because other things were more pressing in the moment,” said Eggert, who emphasized that the proposed and student-written statement did not encapsulate all the center’s operations.

Both Mason and Eggert say they are hoping to get SHIC open as early as possible. 

“We, we being the college, really believe in the importance of having a segment of SHAW that is SHIC. It’s a way to help their fellow peers, their students,” said Mason.

“There’s so many students and that’s why we still want to be around,” said Eggert.

Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that SHIC would no longer distribute Plan B. This has been corrected to clarify that SHIC will continue to distribute Plan B.

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About the Contributors
Henry Horn
Henry Horn, Staff Writer
Henry Horn is a second-year history major from Pasadena, California. He likes riding his bike, listening to songs that don't belong together, and watching soccer. He can easily be bribed with Hot Tamales or a bloody mary sandwich with no tomato but with jalapeños from Jay's Deli.
Levi Magill
Levi Magill, Visuals Editor
I am a third-year philosophy major from Chicago, but when I'm not reading philosophy I like to watch classic movies, skate around town with my camera, ride my motorcycle, or listen to old records.
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