As of January 2014, states across our nation have enacted more abortion restrictions in the past three years than in the entire previous decade. Over 200 targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws have served to greatly reduce the number of reproductive health care facilities serving women. Attacks against reproductive freedom are now constant, and the work of activist organizations has seldom been so critical. The mission of Skidmore Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood is to mobilize student advocates of reproductive rights, educate about sexual health, and provide students with the tools to lead healthy sexual lives. We recognize the imperative need to offer students an opportunity to engage with these issues—even in a short conversation over free condoms on Case Walkway. Although we often partner with, and certainly support, other groups on campus, we are, first and foremost, a reproductive rights group. In his October 3 article “The Red Side: Free Case Walkway of Condoms,” Jacob Reiskin seems to have confused us with another campus group, mistakenly implying that we have previously advertised with images of sex toys. We have not. We have no intention of making students or faculty uncomfortable with the distribution of free condoms, and we apologize if we have done so. We are certainly open to constructive criticism to help us create a safer, more welcoming space for students to engage.
At each of our monthly Free Condom Fridays we distribute roughly 500 condoms to students. We also supply dental dams and other safe sex barriers. Since we began Free Condom Fridays with the founding of Vox four years ago, students have shown great enthusiasm for this event. Through Free Condom Fridays we have connected with students that—according to their own testimony—would not have otherwise further participated in reproductive rights activism. We do our very best to have some sort of dialogue with each and every student who comes to our table. Free Condom Fridays are an educational tool as well as an opportunity for us to provide students with contraceptives entirely free of cost, recognizing that education would be meaningless without access.
It is critical that our club maintain a visible presence on campus if we are to be useful to the student body. With over a hundred clubs on campus, it would be easy for the resources we provide to go unseen and unbeknownst to many students. Regular events in common areas, such as Case Walkway or the Dining Hall Atrium, are how we connect with the student body.
Finally, we are disturbed by the insinuations of Jacob Reiskin’s title “The Red Side: Free Case Walkway of Condoms.” To imply that the work of Planned Parenthood, or even more broadly, the dissemination of free condoms, is a partisan issue contradictory to Republican or conservative values, is both misinformed and misguided. Skidmore Vox has noted support from both the Skidmore Democrats and the Skidmore Republicans. Furthermore, Vox is a deliberately nonpartisan organization. It is unfair, in our opinion, to offhandedly label the “red side” as anti-Planned Parenthood—even anti-free condoms.
We hope that students will continue to be supportive of and engaged with our club, and we certainly invite any suggestions for change and growth. We meet every Monday at 7:00 pm in Ladd 207. All are welcome.
Skidmore Vox Executive Board