Maybe you were sitting in the library furiously studying for an exam or just hanging out in your room watching a scary movie on television when a fairy magically appeared in front of you – wings and all – and handed you a condom or two.

Rest assured you were not merely a victim of a Halloween prank. These condoms were given to you by members of the student organization Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood of the University of Rochester.

The condom fairies’ intended mission was clear – to approach students around campus in the traditional trick-or-treat fashion, but instead of requesting a treat, they showered students with condoms provided to them by Planned Parenthood.

Although the ramifications of their Halloween operation may not have been taken seriously by some of the recipients, the members of Vox are devoted to raising awareness of the consequences of sex issues on campus.

By enthusiastically passing out condoms to every eagerly awaiting student in sight, they are one step closer to accomplishing their goal of establishing a safe sex-educated student body.

As stated in their purpose of organization,Vox exists “to educate the university community about reproductive health and rights, to translate increased awareness into pro-choice activism on campus and to serve as a coalition partner to state, national and international reproductive rights efforts.”

Cofounder of Vox and junior Robyn Schwartz adamantly stressed that this is a pro-choice activist group focused on the reproductive rights of both men and women.

There is a common misconception that Vox and Planned Parenthood, in general, are consistently in favor of abortion, but the accurate viewpoints of these groups are grounded in being pro-choice, non-partisan and in support of the right for women to choose.

Vox’s mission at UR is to “educate students in the issues surrounding reproduction as well as to make students aware of the services available on campus should they find themselves in a trying situation,” cofounder of Vox and senior Adrienne Monley said.

One of their more straightforward approaches, similar to their events on Halloween, is that every Monday they set up a differently themed table in Wilson Commons from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. where they dispense condoms.

Vox works in conjunction with both the University Health Service, as well as the University Health Promotion Office to generate ways to ensure that the necessary information on contraception is being adequately relayed to students.

They currently have several projects in the works – they are encouraging UHS to provide more information about birth control and emergency contraception on their Web site so that it’s more accessible to students.

They are also trying to get UHS to enact a policy change that would make it possible for students to pay for birth control and emergency contraception using Flex in order to guarantee confidentiality.

One of the larger goals the group envisions is to hold another abortion debate on campus. With new controversial issues surfacing, such as the positions of the recent Supreme Court nominees it would be appropriate to address these topics.

They are also eager to enlist both faculty and students to participate in a panel to provide attendees with an oppurtunity to hear differing opinions so that they can then formulate their own views about the issues.

Whether they’re writing petitions about the importance of emergency contraception, sending postcards to state senators, inviting guest speakers to share experiences or passing out condoms on Halloween, the members of this organization are truly invested in creating an environment in which students are aware of reproductive rights as well as providing students with the proper assistance for those treacherous and disconcerting situations, which unfortunately, many find themselves in.

With education, it is possible to avoid situations in which an individual may be placed in an uncompromising position.

“Lots of people come to college without having any sexual education and it’s just sad,” Schwartz said.

As a group, the members of Vox are determined to change this, and they invite anybody who is interested in their cause to attend meetings or get into contact with them by e-mailing urvox@hotmail.com.

Thanks to Vox, we may even see Christmas condom elves or Easter bunnies that carry condom filled baskets. The holidays at UR just got a little more interesting.

Weintraub can be reached at aweintraub@campustimes.org.



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