Free Plan B officially accessible to UMaine students on-campus – The Maine Campus
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) now provides emergency contraceptives in Room 227 of the Memorial Union. Students can access Plan B for free and remain anonymous throughout the easy process.
ODI is composed of three departments on campus, one of which is the Rainbow Resource Center (RRC), which functions as a safe space for members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community.
Another is the Intersectional Feminist Resource Center (IFRC). They provide feminist education and sanitary products to all students. Both RRC and IFRC have lounge areas in-office for anyone looking to relax in a safe, judgment-free zone.
Lastly is the Multicultural Student Center (MSC). They work tirelessly to celebrate those of all cultural backgrounds at the University of Maine and build a diverse community of students. MSC also hosts most of the ODI social events, empowering many identities through educational programs.
Mak Thompson is a Student Lead at ODI. They are a student of Political Science and Women and Gender Studies (WGS). Thompson is a member of TRIOTA, the national WGS Honors Society, and is involved in the Student Alliance for Sexual Health (SASH).
“Our goal is to work on collaborating more with the other departments and organizations on campus to kind of strengthen what we’re doing. Also, to understand what students want from us and what they need from us on campus, to provide resources and make sure everybody has a comfortable environment and is welcome,” said Thompson.
In terms of introducing emergency contraceptives, ODI spent multiple months discussing how it could be made possible. Members shared ideas considering the barriers that those in need of Plan B often come across. Aspen Roulin, an adjunct professor at UMaine, connected ODI with the Mabel Wadsworth Center to make distribution possible on campus.
“It was kind of a long process of figuring out how we were going to be able to do it and be able to distribute them in a safe way… we’re working with Mabel Wadsworth to do that. They’re providing them for us,” Thompson said.
Plan B is offered to students at the Union in the IFRC office. Menstrual products and pregnancy tests are also available in a cabinet that can be found immediately upon entering the room. There is no requirement to speak to any ODI members present or share personal information.
Kalina Chazin-Knox, a third-year Psychology and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies student has been a Student Lead at ODI since her first year at UMaine. Chazin-Knox is also Vice President of TRIOTA.
“I do a lot of programs about pride and sexuality and gender and feminism. I did a reproductive justice event talking about Roe v. Wade before it was overturned, and I have been supporting a lot of the newer folks at ODI,” said Chazin-Knox.
One reason why most colleges have not been able to offer emergency contraceptives is the specific regulations about giving medical advice. Non-healthcare professionals are not allowed to provide students with treatment directly. ODI has overcome this problem by offering Plan B without mandating any sort of confrontation. Students can remain anonymous but are still welcome to ask questions.
“If people come in and can’t find it, then they can always as a student lead. It’s really a low-pressure situation. Anyone can come and grab some,” Chazin-Knox said.
UMaine is not the first institution to offer emergency contraceptives. Davidson College, Boston University, Northeastern University, the University of Washington in Seattle and most recently George Washington University have all had similar initiatives. However, those schools chose to establish Plan B vending machines. ODI considered this idea but was not put into action, as it would fail to eliminate the financial burden entirely.
“Plan B and contraceptives like that can be $40 or $50 at drug stores. Eliminating that for people, especially in cases of need, I think that’s a really important job, and I’m glad that we’re doing it,” said Chazin-Knox.
Considering the Supreme Court no longer upholding Roe v. Wade, out-of-state students need to have the resources that may not be available in their hometowns. The Plan B offered by ODI is also more size-inclusive than the typical brands.
“We just want people to know the weight limit is 190, so it’s higher than the usual, which is 150. We were able to get one that’s more effective and fits for everybody,” Thompson said.
ODI has several upcoming events in the planning process for next semester. There will be an open conversation about masculinity in fraternities hosted by Thompson and UMaine Alpha Delta. They also hope to collaborate with the Student Wellness Center for mental health initiatives. Stay tuned for information about a social justice concert, with performances by local bands and non-profit organizations tabling.
“We’re doing a connections dinner at the end of the month for the indigenous students, faculty and staff to come together and have a space to meet each other and share their experiences on campus,” said Thompson.
You can follow up on these events by visiting the ODI Instagram page. They post updates at the beginning of each week and present a new logo.