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The front door of Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Clinic located in Athens, Ohio, on Sept. 8, 2023.

OU offers limited sexual health resources

Students at Ohio University's main campus have limited access to resources regarding reproductive and sexual health.

Currently, OhioHealth Campus Care, located at 2 Health Center Drive, is the only on-campus location for OU students to get STI testing. 

Athens Health Center, which is located off-campus at 1005 E. State St., is another option for students seeking STI testing. The center is also a division of Planned Parenthood. 

OU’s ‘Be Informed Bobcats’ website includes information about the local and national sexual health resources available to OU students. 

The Sexual Health Initiative Membership is a university study dedicated to those who want to study sexual health in a formal learning environment. 

Caroline Kingori, an associate professor in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, specializes in the study of sexual health and infectious disease. She said the primary purpose of the initiative is to train the next generation of researchers specializing in reproductive and sexual health through faculty mentorship.

“One of the core values is to train the next generation of reproductive and sexual researchers by including and mentoring undergraduate, graduate and junior faculty in every aspect of the research process,” Kingori wrote in an email. 

Samantha Pelham, a university spokesperson, said the study collaborates with community-based organizations and health departments doing similar work to engage in sexual health research. 

The Heritage Community Clinic is partnering with Equitas Health to create a sexual health and wellness clinic on campus. The new clinic will provide free sexual health and wellness education. The services will include STI testing and treatment, HIV testing and information, HPA vaccinations, contraceptive supplies and pregnancy testing. 

However, there is currently no date for when the new clinic will be open.

Kennedy Huntsman, a senior studying political science and Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, is the Women’s Affairs Commissioner for OU’s Student Senate. 

In her position, Huntsman is knowledgeable about several sexual health resources that are readily available and accessible to students. She suggested the Office of Health Promotion, OhioHealth Campus Care and Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio as non-biased resources students could visit to seek sexual health education, women’s health checks and STI testing.

With students having limited access to sexual and reproductive resources, the Women’s Affairs Commission provides free emergency contraceptives to those who may need them. 

The Women’s Affairs Commission provided free emergency contraceptives in the Women’s Center, Cats’ Cupboard and the Student Senate Office. Huntsman said she is trying to expand to more locations to make it more accessible for more students. 

Providing free emergency contraceptives originated from a project the commission implemented last year, Safer Sacks—which includes dental dams, condoms, menstrual products, pregnancy tests, nightcaps and personal safety alarms. The project’s goal is to promote safe sex and provide free resources to students. 

“We were trying to figure out a way to distribute (the Plan B) to where it would still be accessible, but we weren't going to force it upon anyone,” Huntsman said. 

She said there are plans in the works to continue the Safer Sacks this year and it should be back on campus within a few weeks.

She said the Women’s Center still has a readily available stock of Plan B available for anyone who may need it, too. 

“We have an abundance of sexual health opportunities on campus. Students usually just don't know how to access them, which is what we're trying to work to combat,” Huntsman said. 

Huntsman and Dan Gordillo, the student senate government affairs commissioner, are partnering to create voter guides for the Nov. 7 election. The two want to primarily focus on what Issue 1 means and give information regarding health care and abortion rights. 

Liz Walters, the Ohio democratic chair, explained how Issue 1 would enshrine several things in the Ohio Constitution that pertain to women’s health care and freedom.

“A vote ‘yes’ on Issue 1 would support amending Ohio's Constitution to establish a right for individuals to make their own reproductive decisions, but it would still apply restrictions to when abortions are available,” Huntsman said. “A vote ‘no’ would be voting against amending the constitution to include that.”

Huntsman also said the passing of Issue 1 would make getting sexual and reproductive health care easier to access and destigmatize abortions. 

“I definitely think it would make resources pertaining to reproductive and sexual health more accessible,” Huntsman said. “It would alleviate the stress of having to tiptoe around our legal right as representatives of the campus regarding what we can and cannot provide to students.”


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