The Bench is across from the Stony Brook train station. (Mike Pedersen)
The Bench is across from the Stony Brook train station. (Mike Pedersen)

Sex, tacos and cheap drinks were the theme of Tuesday night at The Bench as Planned Parenthood hosted their “Sex, Politics and Tacos” event in an effort to raise awareness and money for the organization.

Students poured into the bar around 8:30 p.m. to enjoy karaoke, raffles and drinks.

Although the goal of the night was to supply everyone with a good time, speakers from Planned Parenthood and Stony Brook University’s Organization of Public Health were present to gather donations and talk about their mission.

“We really just want to promote awareness for Planned Parenthood on campus,” Tiffany Fernandez, president of Public Health, said. “Our age group is Planned Parenthood’s target audience, so they should have a bigger presence on campus.”

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Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic currently provides health care for over 30,000 men and women per year, which includes cancer screenings and abortion care. Although they are a non-profit and non-partisan organization, the organization’s action fund hoped to raise at least $600 over the course of the night.

“Although the donations are truly appreciated, volunteers are just as important as money to us,” Dr. Susan Brennan, a member of Planned Parenthood’s endorsement committee and one of the guest speakers at the event, said.

While one of the goals of the organization was to help raise awareness and support on campus, few people there knew about the event before coming to the bar. Many simply came out for the $2 tacos, $3 fireball shots and the usual karaoke night.

“I just came out for a friend, so I was surprised about the whole celebration going on, but I think that is a really important cause,” Heather Easley, a local hairdresser, said.

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During the night, a few guest speakers spoke about the organization’s political goals. Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic’s Action Fund focuses on organizing for local and national issues, specifically when it comes to health services and education for minors. A common theme among the speakers, including Brennan, is how the campus is getting more involved with Planned Parenthood.

According to Fernandez, this event is just one of many upcoming collaborations with Planned Parenthood. Another joint effort is coming up in April during the public health fair to help attract students to the cause.

“Some people seem to take advantage of Planned Parenthood today,” Brennan said. “A few years ago people were afraid of supporting it, but then things changed and now people are very vocal about it.”

As the event went on, the focus seemed to shift from informing patrons to entertaining them. Karaoke of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Hump De Bump” and A-Ha’s “Take On Me” played throughout the night as the event came to a close. According to Sean Boehning, a worker at the restaurant and bar for five years, the event was a success for both the bar and the organization.

“Stony Brook is always welcome to host events here because it is appropriate for the cause. People can come out, enjoy themselves with drinks and food and maybe even learn a thing or two,” Boehning said.

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