Valentine’s Day may leave many young people preoccupied with intimacy, but Stony Brook University’s Center for Prevention and Outreach, or had students thinking about the serious side of sex with the campus’ sixth annual Love Carefully Event held on Tuesday.
CPO organizations such as peer education internships CHILL and CHOICE as well as the Student Health Advisory Committee, SHAC and the Commuter Students Association, or CSA helped to organize the event, which largely took place in the Planned Parenthood Peconic Hudson truck parked outside of the Student Activities Center.
Resources and Services offered to students through the Planned Parenthood truck included free condoms; Plan B, the morning after pill; information about sexual health; as well as the opportunity to schedule sexually transmitted disease/sexually transmitted infections screenings.
“We have all of these resources available to students on campus,” CPO Health Educator Kathleen Valerio said. “But we want to make every effort to reach them.”
Despite a 2011 study by the Center for Disease Control, or CDC stating that approximately 19 million people between the ages of 15-24 have been affected by STDs according to Director of Student Health Services Rachel Bergeson in an earlier interview, only 363 of the 24,882 appointments made at Student Health Services in 2010 were for STD/STI screenings.
However, according to an email by Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Education and Training Manager Anthony Marmo approximately 250 students took interest in their sexual health by participating at Love Carefully.
“We’re getting people to think about their own sexual wellness,” Marmo said at the event.
While only two students reportedly made screening appointments for a later date, others were more receptive to birth control product options provided such as the Plan B morning after pill, which was distributed for free to both men and women who could provide identification stating that they were over the age of 17.
According to Marmo, more than 90 packages of Plan B were successfully distributed during the event.
“We recommend you always have Plan B on hand, like in your medicine cabinet in case of an emergency,” said Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Community Affairs and Advocacy Director Gina D’Andrea Weatherup.
In addition to a positive response by students in accepting birth control, according to Marmo, 112 students signed the petition to protect their sexual health rights, which are often caught in a balancing act between lawmakers. Most recently, this struggle has take currently being threatened most recently by the Marco Rubio Bill and the Roy Blunt Bill.
According to Weatherup, the Marco Rubio Bill and the Roy Blunt Bill are currently independently designed to restrict insurance coverage for birth control “under the guise of religious freedom.”
Students expressed their support for their rights by taking pictures while holding slogans such as, “Listen up or we’re breaking up,” a motto employed by Planned Parenthood to in order to gain the attention of politicians and lawmakers. According to Weatherup, the photos would be posted to social media websites
“There’s a stupid stereotype that students don’t care [about their sexual wellbeing], and we know that’s not true,” Weatherup said. “Students care a lot about this.”