January 25, 2008

The wrong prescription

The Student Care Center’s (SCC) recent decision to cease offering emergency contraceptives doesn’t reflect the best interests of the student body and should be rescinded.

The SCC is a place where students can comfortably receive free condoms, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing, nutrition counseling, and other services from doctors and nurses trained to work on a college campus. While dozens of other medical centers throughout Chicago may offer similar care, they lack the convenience and familiarity of the SCC. In addition, the SCC’s services are generally free—thereby removing another barrier from the often embarrassing experience of receiving the morning-after pill or getting an STI test.

The SCC decided that halting the emergency contraceptive service was an appropriate cost-cutting measure, considering that the medicine is now available over-the-counter for women 18 and over. SCC officials say they have not yet received any complaints about the policy change, which effectively took place last month after the SCC ran out of the medication. However, this silence may merely indicate the extent to which students don’t know about the change—yet.

Unfortunately, the SCC appears to be forgetting its importance to the student body. Students were not consulted before the decision was made: Student acceptance of the new policy should not have been assumed. Now, students could be put in the uncomfortable position of going to the SCC with the expectation of picking up the medication, only to be informed that they must venture to the CVS and shell out $50. Learning about the SCC’s new policy the morning after is too late.

The SCC could also consider charging a small fee for the emergency contraceptive, if this is the only way to sustain the program. Subsidizing the pill is better than withholding it altogether.

The SCC has stated that it has no qualms about resuming the emergency contraceptive service; the center has offered to provide the pill again if given evidence that students dislike the new policy. Because the SCC failed to solicit feedback earlier, students are now left with no other choice but to speak up. Students uncomfortable with the new policy should call the SCC and tell the center what they think. In this case, student opinion could make all the difference.