The Necessity of Contraceptives on College Campuses

The University of Notre Dame was recently in the news for deciding to deny birth control coverage to its students and employees.  This was a result of a recent decision from the Trump administration, saying that organizations could deny to provide contraceptives based on religious and moral objections.

Yet, the debate over whether or not schools and employers should be allowed to deny contraceptives due to religious or moral objections has been occurring for years and became more heated after the Affordable Care Act mandate that demanded this coverage.  Notre Dame, a historically Catholic university, has sued in the past for an exemption from the Obama administration’s rules, although that lawsuit was unsuccessful.  The university has also been criticized in the past by students who believed that they did not receive adequate resources. Prior to the most recent decision, Notre Dame students were able to get birth control through a third-party coverage plan.  However, the campus pharmacy refused to provide the medication to anybody who did not have a reason outside of pregnancy prevention.  Students with both on and off campus insurance plans struggled to get their prescriptions refilled.

People who take birth control pills do so for a variety of health reasons.   Contraceptives can help with irregular period cycles, painful cramping, and even acne.  They also help countless women who deal with conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, which can both be incredibly debilitating.  For somebody with one of these diagnoses, access to birth control could have a significant impact on their quality of life.  A recent study also showed that women who take birth control pills for an extended period of time have a decreased risk of certain cancers.

Yet, even if somebody does take contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, this is a completely valid reason in and of itself.  Wanting to have safe sex without the risk of pregnancy is not something anybody should have to feel ashamed about.  The recent follow-up statement from Notre Dame, which says that students who have a demonstrated medical need would still be able to get a prescription, is not an adequate or humane policy.  Nobody should have to justify the decisions they make with their body to anybody else.  Somebody’s own personal objections should not have a negative impact on somebody else’s ability to choose and their own wellbeing.  It is time to stop interfering in women’s health and to provide them with the medical resources they need.

Author: Veronica Correa

Street Harrassment

Eyes straight ahead. Keys firmly clutched in hand, pepper spray ready. Headphones in, music on mute. Keep walking. Stay brisk—don’t slow down.

The sun is setting. Franklin Street is suddenly bathed in a warm, glowing light. You allow yourself to briefly relax, a moment to take in the picturesque scene before you. A male pedestrian asks you a question.

Ignore. Continue walking. A group of women across the street catch your eye. Cross the road. Walk behind them.

Finally, you arrive at your destination—you can breathe, a sigh of momentary relief before you soon must leave again.

This script is repeated over and over and over again, no matter the time or place.

Go out in groups.

Carry a pocketknife.

Always stay alert, never let your guard down.

Check, check, check.

If someone attacks you, it’s because you missed something. A slip-up. You’re targeted with questions.

Why’d you wear that?

Can’t you take a compliment?

Why were you out so late?

When arriving at UNC-Chapel Hill, incoming students are told that Chapel Hill is the Southern Part of Heaven—a safe, fun, inclusive haven where you can freely learn and grow. For many students, though, this promise rings hollow.

This insidious, constantly unsafe feeling in public spaces is characterized by street harassment—sexual harassment in public spaces, including catcalling, stalking, touching without consent, etc.

Street harassment is incredibly prevalent. In a study conducted by Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment organization, and Cornell University, researchers found that 29 percent of those who shared their experiences of street harassment on Hollaback!’s website were physically touched in a public space without their consent, while 57 percent were subject to verbal harassment.

On college campuses, harassment has other implications, too. The threat of street harassment often will dissuade women from studying in a library late due to fear of walking home late at night, negatively impacting academics. According to Hollaback!, 67 percent of students experienced harassment on campus, 61 percent witnessed another student being harassed on college campus, and only 18 percent of students had not experienced or witnessed harassment on campus. Hollaback! Also found that a staggering 46 percent of students said harassment caused disappointment with college experience.

I can recall multiple times in which I simply decided to remain in my dorm to complete assignments during the evening, even though I focus significantly better in a quiet, studious library—a choice male students, specifically cis, white, heterosexual men, rarely have to consider.

Women and other marginalized folks should be able to freely exist and move around in the world without fear of potential bodily, mental, and emotional harm.

Now What?

If you’re like me, you’ve only gotten angrier since the inauguration. I honestly feel like for each day that goes by, my anger level increase tenfold. Sometimes I feel like maybe that’s not such a good thing, but I’m hoping that the anger that is still fueling me after I watch the news will be what keeps up my motivation to fight the system. I don’t want to become complacent with what is happening around me, especially after so many women marched on Saturday.

So let’s revisit that march to remind us why we should stay angry.

The March

“CHANGE, REPRESENTATION, RIGHTS ACCESS, ERADICATION OF MEN, UNDERSTANDING, SHATTERING PATRIARCHY, EMPATHY… just kidding. That would be ideal… Hopefully a sense of seriousness.” Senior Abigail Parlier says about what she hoped the implications of the international women’s marches. She was there amongst a group of strong Tar Heel women who decided to go to Raleigh. The disappointment she felt about the majority white crowd has also been a subject of criticism when the rose-colored glasses came off Sunday. She was also critical to bring up that the march was not just about women’s rights, but it was  “a whole conglomeration of things that feminism really represents…. And that we reduced women to a vagina (even though vaginas rock) but not all women have them.”

So now what do we do to make sure that the problematic issues at the march are addressed and that the momentum doesn’t die?

Call Your senators.

Senator Thom Tillis (R)

  • Washington DC Office: 202-224-6342
  • Charlotte Office: 704-509-9087
  • Greenville Office: 252-329-0371
  • Hendersonville Office: 828-693-8750
  • High Point Office: 336-885-0685
  • Raleigh Office: 919-856-4630

Senator Richard Burr (R)

  • Washington DC Office: 202-224-3154
  • Asheville Office: 828-350-2437
  • Rocky Mount Office: 252-977-9522
  • Winston-Salem Office: 800-685-8916

Call Your Representatives

George “GK” Butterfield Jr.  (D) – 1st district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3101
  • Durham Office: 919-908-0164
  • Wilson Office: 252-237-9816

George Holding (R) – 2nd district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3032
  • Raleigh Office: 919-782-4400

Walter Jones Jr. (R) – 3rd district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3415
  • Greenville Office: 252-931-1003
  • Havelock Office: 252-555-6846
  • Jacksonville Office: 252-555-6846

David Price (D) – 4th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-1784
  • Raleigh Office: 919-859-5999
  • Western District Office: 919-967-7924

Virginia Foxx (R) – 5th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-2071
  • Boone Office: 828-265-0240
  • Clemmons Office: 226-778-0211

Mark Walker (R) – 6th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3065
  • Graham Office: 226-229-0159
  • Greensboro Office: 226-222-5005

David Rouzer (R) – 7th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-2731
  • Brunswick County Office: 910-253-6111
  • Johnston County Office: 919-938-3040
  • New Hanover County Office: 910-395-0202

Richard Hudson (R) – 8th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3715
  • Concord Office: 704-786-1004
  • Fayetteville Office: 910-997-2071

Robert Pittenger (R) – 9th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-1976
  • Charlotte Office: 704-362-1060
  • Fayetteville Office: 910-303-0669
  • Monroe Office: 704-917-9573

Patrick McHenry (R) – 10th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-2576
  • Hickory Office: 828-327-6100
  • Gastonia Office: 704-833-0096
  • Black Mountain Office: 828-669-0600

Mark Meadows (R) – 11th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-6401
  • Henderson County Office: 828-693-5603

Alma Adams (D) – 12th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-1510
  • Charlotte Office: 704-344-9950

Ted Budd (R) – 13th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-4531
  • Advance Office: no number listed
  • Mooresville Office: no number listed

NEXT TIME YOU CAN VOTE:

November 6, 2018 General mid-term elections

What happens? All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. Also, 39 state and territorial governorships will be contested.

Follow the Women’s March 10 Actions/100 Days

The official website of the Women’s March has a campaign for 10 organized actions to occur over Trump’s first 100 days in office.  Imagine just how effective this is going to be when the same millions of women who marched (and those who couldn’t march) continue to be active.

My Closing Remarks

Mostly, stay angry. Stay angry and nasty. If you stay angry and stay aware of what is going on with the Trump administration, you are more likely to take more action. I know it took this orange fire lit under some asses of some women to make them realize just how big of a deal this was, and they took to the streets. I was surprised at some of the people I saw who attended marches…. Now lets keep the momentum going. Don’t turn off technology or separate yourself from Facebook because your racist uncle keeps commenting on your status and your other racist cousin keeps sharing pro-Trump/anti-feminist memes… embrace what you’re seeing and let it remind you why you’re fighting. Let it be the fuel that drives you to make this world a better place. It is better to be aware of the atrocities happening so that you know what to fight.