GIF brings free condoms, menstrual products to Jewell

An assortment of condoms provided by GIF and the Student Health Center, which can be found in baskets in residence halls bathrooms. Photo by Christina Kirk.

William Jewell College’s Gender Issues and Feminism Club (GIF) kicked off the first semester by introducing condoms and menstrual products to a number of on-campus buildings as part of their first project. While the menstrual products provided by GIF operate on a take one, leave one basis, GIF was able to work with Nurse Brown and Health Services to receive funding for condoms, which will be continually refilled throughout the school year.

GIF’s efforts to bring condoms to residence halls on campus ended a long struggle to bring contraceptives directly to Jewell students in their living spaces. Before GIF’s distribution, condoms were only available to students through the Health Center or Dr. Tricia Hager. Jewell students have made many attempts to bring contraceptives to campus, especially within the last seven years. Student Senate attempted to bring condoms to Jewell’s campus twice, but both efforts fell through. Shelly King, dean of students, was able to provide more insight.

“The first time, the feedback received from the student body regarding condom distribution on campus was very low. The second time, Senate voted as a group to provide condoms on campus in the [residence] halls. Unfortunately, they made it the responsibility of the RAs in each building to keep them stocked. The next senate cabinet did not move forward with pursuing this,” King said.

Though past efforts by Jewell’s Student Senate cabinets did not hold up, GIF is determined to keep up with the distribution of condoms as part of their work towards being an active club on campus. This was one of GIF’s first on-campus projects to create a more sex-positive environment and to encourage students to join a club that was able to take action towards their goals.

This year’s GIF Cabinet Chairs include: Engagement Chair Catherine Dema, senior Oxbridge: History of Ideas and physics major; Project Management Chair Christina Kirk, senior Oxbridge: Institutions and Policy and international relations major; Events Chair Madison Carroll, senior Oxbridge: Institutions and Policy and international relations major; Communications Chair Lydia Enge, junior political science and communications major; and Financial Chair Langston Riddle, first-year Oxbridge: Institutions and Policy major. 

A basket of condoms in a Semple Hall bathroom, with a sign explaining the initiative. Photo by Christina Kirk.

GIF undertook the project of bringing contraceptives to Jewell’s campus as a way to make their presence known to students and to show that they are a club that believes in taking action. Their aim on campus is to become involved with other clubs and to complete more projects that will engage Jewell students on issues relating to gender and sex. They also plan to host events that will comply with Jewell’s current COVID-19 guidelines, while also helping students with a variety of issues.

The move to bring contraceptives like condoms into Jewell’s residence halls has already seen some success and positive feedback from students. GIF was able to finish a project that has long been neglected on Jewell’s campus due to a number of different problems. Condoms and menstrual products were put in baskets around campus by GIF Chairs and will be maintained by the group throughout the year.

A basket of tampons and pads with signs explaining GIF’s contraceptive and menstrual product initiatives behind it. Photo by Catherine Dema.

GIF used club funds to pay for menstrual products, which will hopefully stay self-sustained with their take one, leave one initiative. GIF is hopeful that the introduction of contraceptives to campus will foster a new environment of sex-positivity. Events Chair Madison Carroll spoke with the Monitor about her thoughts on the impact these actions would have on students.

“I hope that students will use the products and feel free to contact us regarding getting financial assistance for other amenities, like pregnancy tests and Plan B. I hope this gives students a more accessible way to get these products if they have a financial need. Studies have also shown that providing contraceptives in dormitories can create a more sex-positive atmosphere on campus which I think is something Jewell needs and hope that comes as a result of this initiative,” Carroll said.

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