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

The Siren – UNC’s Feminist Magazine

The following is a guest article submitted by The Siren – a feminist magazine located on the campus of UNC.  The author is Rachel Maguire, a Co-Editor of The Siren.

1. What is the goal of The Siren on UNC’s campus?

Siren’s goal is essentially to spread feminist messages across campus, to people who may or may not already be informed on feminist issues.  Our Mission is stated as such on our website, “The Siren is a student-produced publication at UNC-Chapel Hill that advocates an intersectional feminist analysis of our environments, both individual and institutional.  Our feminism strives to confront and acknowledge gender inequity, misogyny, white supremacy, ableism, transphobia, classism, ageism, imperialism and other systems of oppression.  We provide readers, members, and our communities a platform to share their experiences.”

2. Why is it called “The Siren”?

As per our website, “In Greek mythology, the Sirens were enchanted creatures sporting the head of a woman and the body of a bird.  With their irresistible songs, the Sirens lured sea mariners toward land and rocky graves.  We learn in “The Odyssey” that the Sirens’ songs, while deadly, were also full of wisdom.  Hearing this, the hero Odysseus decides to try his fate by tying himself to the mast of his ship, but not before having his sailors put wax in their ears to protect them. Courage and restraint enable Odysseus to hear and learn from the Sirens’ songs. He is then empowered to change his destiny.  He makes it past the islands safely.
 We at The Siren want to help change our future for the better as well.  At first our message, like that of the Sirens’, may evoke fear.  The terms feminism, women’s rights, gender equality, gay rights and civil rights may cause many people to turn a deaf ear, like Odysseus’ sailors.  But if you take the time to read our stories, you’ll find our songs full of wisdom and experience, too.  We wish you good reading and hope our songs might inspire you as well.” To me, this means that we have a strong and influential message that we want to spread to our community that will hopefully influence a positive change in our environment.

3.  Each semester The Siren makes a zine focusing on a theme or topic.  Why did you pick a zine as your platform to do this?

So we published a zine this semester, but we also published a traditional magazine that is centered around the theme of home and family.  We created the zine that we published this semester, which can be found at the following link, because we wanted to explore our creative sides.  Each page in this was created by a Siren member during the length of a two hour meeting; there was no central theme or any formal structure.  We just wanted to create.

4.  Do you all work closely with any other organizations on campus?

Siren has been an integral organization in creating and leading the Carolina Feminist Coalition, a coalition made up of many different feminist centered organizations on campus, such as Siren, FSU, CAGE, Embody, One Act, The Bridge, and many more.  We work closely with other organizations when planning and executing any coalition event. This semester, we have had two mix and mingles and one “Paint It Purple for RVAM”, where we raised over $400 for the Compass Center.

5.  Is there a pressing feminist issue you think is extremely salient today?

One very salient feminist issue that exists today is that of reproductive rights.  Obviously the president and his administration are anti-abortion, have reinstated the global gag rule, and I am sure have and will continue to push their anti-choice agenda.  Whether or not this will impact the state of North Carolina is more up to the governor, but I do know that a very concerning bill has popped up in the House, and the majority of NC House Representatives are in support of it.  The bill would criminalize abortion after 6 weeks, a period of time in which women have barely found out they’re pregnant.  Of course, this bill would be in violation of Roe v. Wade, so it’s unlikely to get far, but it’s still disheartening that so many representatives want abortion to be illegal so badly.

6.  What ways do you think UNC could be “more feminist”, either spatially, policy-wise, etc?

I think that UNC needs to be more racially diverse.  This campus is overpopulated with white people and that leads to many white women dominating feminist spaces, whether intentionally or not.  I believe that white students in feminist spaces can combat this by making it a point to acknowledge their white privilege and actively seek WoC feminist perspectives, be sure to not center or elevate their voices over WoC, and support WoC activists and feminist organizations on campus, such as The Bridge.

7.  What direction do you all think feminism is going in?

I think that feminist is currently splitting into two basic groups – groups who embrace intersectionality and groups that actively deny it.  I personally think that the only type of feminism that is true feminist has to be intersectional.  Sadly, I know that some cis women are trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) and think that trans woman are not ‘real’ women and therefore should be excluded from women only spaces.  This is a definite split that I’ve seen debated in feminist spaces.  Thankfully, most feminists that I know at UNC openly embrace and practice intersectional feminism, but the fact that TERFs exist is worrying and frightening, and I am a bit worried to see what will happen with this debate in the future.

We at The Arc would like to extend our upmost gratitude to The Siren for submitting this article.  

Being Latinx in the American South

Did you know that the United States is the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world?

People don’t often realize how the Latinx populations have historically influenced numerous aspects of American culture and how they continue to do so today.  This is particularly true throughout the American South and in North Carolina.  We can see this cultural impact in food, music and even some town names throughout the state.

North Carolina is unique in the sense that it has the fastest-growing Latinx population in the country.  We now have almost 1 million Latinx living in the state out of a total population of 10 million, and this number is expected to continue to grow exponentially.  After the 2016 election, Governor Roy Cooper reinstated the State Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs after it had been previously abandoned by Governor Pat McCrory. The intent of this position is to have a liaison for Hispanic and Latinx residents of North Carolina at the state level.  

Yet, we don’t often get the chance to celebrate this culture.  Due to a number of socioeconomic and educational barriers, Latinx individuals are among a number of minority groups that continue to be underrepresented at places of higher education, such as UNC.  While the percentage of Latinx students who attend a two or four-year college is increasing, they may feel isolated or subjected to discrimination when they arrive at college.

Latinx workers in the South also deal with workplace inequality.  While Latinx people in North Carolina are statistically more likely to be employed than other demographic groups in the state, they tend to be concentrated in jobs such as construction and agriculture – in fact, North Carolina is the fifth-most populous farmworker state in the US. These statistics also call into question the working conditions of farmworkers throughout the country.  Latinxs in North Carolina are also more likely to live in poverty, at a rate of about 27.4%.

Latinx residents also participate in the local economy through entrepreneurship.  In 2012, Hispanic/Latinx-owned business made up 4.3% of North Carolinian business firms.  This number is also increasing at a faster rate than the overall number of new businesses in the state.

Yet, it is also important to note the Latinx community is more than its economic contributions.  It is a dynamic community of people from different countries and backgrounds throughout Latin America.

 

(The motivation for writing this article came from Dr. DeGuzmán’s talk, “Being Latinx in the South”, that took place on campus last week. During the discussion, she encouraged the audience to draw connections between old and new history.  Latinx people have impacted this region even in pre-colonial times, yet we often don’t realize this due to how we tend to whitewash history.)

Author: Veronica Correa