The college’s Center for Health and Counseling (CHC) and Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center (GSSRC) have teamed up to offer free tablets of Plan B, the emergency contraceptive pill, to students, faculty and staff, as well as to members of the general community.
Those interested can find tablets at South City Campus’s GSSRC office and any one of the CHC’s offices, which are located at the South City, Taylorsville Redwood and Jordan campuses. While the CHC has previously offered Plan B for a reduced price, the new and free offering comes thanks to a grant received by the University of Utah’s Ascent Center.
Individuals need only provide a valid ID showing they are at least 18 years of age.
The Ascent Center is using their grant money to offer Plan B, usually $40 to $50, for free at clinics and community partners like Salt Lake Community College. The goal is to provide emergency contraception to those who lack affordable access, such as uninsured and undocumented individuals. One of their efforts has included the installation of a Plan B vending machine on the U. campus.
“We felt that this is a great opportunity for people who may need access to emergency contraception,” said Philip Howland, clinic manager and family nurse practitioner at the CHC.
“This is not just for women,” Howland continued. “It’s not necessarily [only] for people [who just had sex]. It could also be for people who are sexually active and are not taking birth control daily … they may use a condom, but sometimes accidents happen, so it’s nice to have this available.”
Howland added that while the CHC’s supply of Plan B is not indefinite, they are not concerned about running out.
Although the GSSRC and CHC’s announcement came the same week as the Utah Supreme Court heard arguments on abortion in the state, the GSSRC clarified in an Instagram post that Plan B is not an abortion pill, as it works to prevent fertilization following unprotected sex. The post also reminds readers that Plan B does not prevent the spread of HIV or other STIs.
Promoting safe, healthy sex year-round
Besides the new Plan B offering, both the CHC and GSSRC work continuously to reduce the stigma surrounding sexual health.
“We want to reduce the barriers as much as we can,” Howland said. “Unfortunately, there can be some shame associated with being proactive about your sexual health.”
GSSRC Manager Peter Moosman said there is no ledger or record of anyone who decides to pick up a tablet of Plan B, so the process remains completely confidential — a “no questions-asked policy.”
“We have students come in and grab tampons all the time, very discreetly,” Moosman said. “And we really hope that [our openness] destigmatizes the fears or insecurities around asking for Plan B. This is an open, safe space. We are very sex-positive, and very encouraging that people are taking care of themselves.”
Howland separately echoed Moosman’s words.
“The more we can be sex positive … the less it’s awkward or there’s stigma about talking about sex,” Howland said. “And being comfortable with asking your partner if they’ve been tested for STIs, getting yourself tested for STIs. The more we’re able to have the conversations and normalize the conversations, the more ‘normal’ it is.”
The CHC has most forms of contraception available, including injections, referrals for implants, and long-acting, reversible contraception. They also offer prescriptions for birth control, free condoms (also available at the GSSRC) and vaginal inserts with estrogen. The CHC tests for all STIs as well.
Later this year, the CHC will start STI rapid testing, which increases the turnaround speed of test results while remaining confidential. Howland said the center will share more details about this new initiative at a later date.
For more information about the GSSRC, CHC and their services, visit each center’s respective web pages: slcc.edu/chc and slcc.edu/gssrc. Both groups can also be found on Instagram under @slccgssrc and @slcc_chc.