On a pleasant spring evening in 2022, a group of students converged in Lutnick Library. They appeared to be like any other group working on a problem set or presentation, but they met under dire circumstances.
Just a few hours before, news of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade had leaked and propelled the students to meet. During that first gathering, attendees processed what the decision would mean for their lives and discussed ways for students to mobilize.
Treasurer Ellie Baron ’25 remembers the initial meeting, saying “There were a lot of people gathered in Lutnick library trying to figure out, as students on a college campus, what can we do about this?”
From that meeting emerged Students for Reproductive Health, a student advocacy group intent on increasing access to reproductive health resources on campus.
Last fall the group developed two initiatives: the dorm access program and the peer mentor program.
The former aims to increase access to pads, tampons, pregnancy tests, dental dams, and condoms by putting these products in dorms, where students can simply take them, free of charge. This year these stations are in the bathrooms of several dorms, including Jones, Barclay, Kim, and Gummere. The drawers containing the items also have QR codes, which students can use to access the club’s LinkTree, where they can fill out an anonymous Google Form to restock a particular product and learn how to use the materials.
“By making these more accessible and visible we can destigmatize them,” Baron says.
The club has already ordered more than 1,000 pads, 600 tampons, 700 condoms, and 200 dental dams. Pregnancy tests have also been a popular product as well.
“Pregnancy tests are expensive and hard to get in other places on campus,” Baron says. “You can walk into the health center and get a condom but you can’t do that for pregnancy tests.”
Over twenty students serve as peer mentors, who are identified by a green ribbon on their bags.. Peer mentors always carry pads, tampons, pregnancy tests, and condoms, and can answer questions about reproductive health.
The club has also hosted events to increase awareness.
ln November, they partnered with Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Planned Parenthood to host a seminar on safer sex practices. The seminar included a discussion about students’ prior sexual education and the potential gaps in that education as well as a presentation on common STDs and how to use condoms and dental dams.
ln March, the club also collaborated with the Center for Gender Resources and Sexual Equality (GRASE Center), and the Program in Gender and Sexuality to host a screening of the film Period. End of Sentence, a documentary about the stigmatization of menstrual periods in rural lndia and how the creation of low-cost pads has worked to break that taboo and provide women financial stability. The film screening was followed by a discussion about period taboo and period products in the U.S.
The group hosts meetings at least once a week. Peer mentors meet every other week to discuss how the program is going, collect inventory, and learn about specific topics, such as common STDs and consent. Board members also meet weekly to share their progress on the club’s initiatives.
Currently, the club is looking to next year. They hope to expand the dorm access program to all dorms, having gained insight into how to scale up the program through piloting it this semester.
The club’s long-term goal is to have institutionally-supported access to reproductive health products and education. “We want this to be institutional,” Baron states, “ldeally, the College should have these essential products readily accessible. It shouldn’t be up to students to do this.”
—Zhao Gu Gammage