USGD launches Sexual Health Resource Center

The center serves as a pickup location for free products such as condoms, lube and dental dams

On March 10, Undergraduate Student Government Downtown launched its Sexual Health and Resource Center which provides students free access to products related to sexual health.

The Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS partnered with USGD to donate products since the center is providing students free access to condoms, lube and dental dams as well as tampons and panty liners.

Van Dexter Calo, director of safety, health and wellness for USGD, reached out to the Southwest Center to get students access. 

"Regardless of pre-pandemic or no pandemic present, people are still going to engage in these acts," said Calo, a junior studying medical studies. "It's best that we find a way to support our students by providing them resources."

USGD hopes to keep students sexually healthy through the initiative, said Renuka Vemuri, vice president of policy for USGD, and a junior studying health solutions. 

"What students do in their own lives, that is their own business, we just want to make sure that they're being safe," Vemuri said. "The fact of the matter is that it just happens, and it's better that students be safe."

@usgdowntown

USGD now has a sexual health resource center! Check out this video to see how to use it! ##xybzca ##xyzbca ##4yp ##foryou #asu ##studentgovernment

♬ original sound - USG Downtown



The center is currently run using an ordering system operating out of USGD's offices in the Student Center at the Post Office. Students can order items through a Google Form and pick products up at the office. 

The ordering is anonymous and students only need to provide their phone number on the form. Students will receive a text when items are ready for pick up. Within the first two days, USGD had three orders, Calo said.

USGD is planning to promote the center through different campus events, including partnering with the Women's Coalition for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and tabling during Pride Week in April. 

The creation of the center was a priority and campaign goal for current USGD President Nora Thompson, a senior studying public service and public policy.

Thompson got the idea from an Arizona Board of Regents leadership dinner at UA when she was a senator. At UA, the program is called the Feminist Pharmacy.  

"When we campaigned, we were trying to find something that kind of ticked all of those boxes for all of us, but that would also help students," Thompson said. 

Thompson said she has been passionate about sexual health before she was even president and wanted to make a change within the University.

"What else can I do to help students through the confusing process? Not shame them for wanting to have sex but instead, maybe helping them find ways to do it that are safe and healthy for them," Thompson said. "This was one of them."  

In addition to items for sexual health, the center is an extension of USGD's menstrual equity program that provides students with free sanitary pads and tampons. Menstrual product dispensers have been added to first floor bathrooms of most ASU buildings in downtown Phoenix.

The initiative, both sexual health and menstrual equity aspects, connect students to resources when they may be uncomfortable obtaining them in other capacities. 

"A lot of students don't want to approach health services and have to talk to people," Vemuri said. "Some people just want to be a little more quiet about it, so we just thought that it would be a good resource to provide to them."

In addition to making students more comfortable, USGD is looking to decrease stigma around sexual health. 

"We really want to transition away from this culture of shame and silence around sex. Students are having it, there's nothing we could do to stop them," Thompson said. "Instead we need to help direct them into making choices that are healthy and safe for them." 

Calo echoed Thompson, as USGD looks to normalize sexual health downtown and at ASU. 

"(We want to) also continue raising awareness for something that shouldn't be stigmatized as it is right now," Calo said. "Since it's a normal thing, I think it should be normalized and that's what we're trying to do as part of USG."

The center is open for suggestions from students on other health resources that may benefit them. 


Reach the reporter at mcfisch4@asu.edu and follow @morgfisch on Twitter. 

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