The Health and Counseling Center is currently in the process of bringing Family Planning Services to campus. Students currently are unable to receive birth control or emergency contraception in the Health Center, but this could change as early as Winter Term.
The college currently refers students to Family Planning Services of Western Illinois on Main Street for contraception and STD testing, but hopes to bring them to the Health Center so students could have on-campus access to their care.
“We’re really open to whatever we can do so they can be here and students have a little more convenience,” Director of Counseling Services Dan Larson said.
The college currently has a contract with Family Planning that allows Knox students to receive one free exam per year. They can also receive birth control, testing and counseling at Family Planning Services, which operates on a sliding fee scale.
Executive Director of Family Planning Services Ashley German-Cooper said that she hopes to meet with the Health Center over winter break so Family Planning can come to campus at the start of Winter Term, but this move is still in the planning process. She said that she hopes to see more Knox students at their facility on Main Street to ensure that they are needed on campus.
“We’re trying to get students to come over to us. Our numbers from Knox students have stayed kind of stagnant,” she said.
Larson said that he could envision Family Planning coming to campus on Saturdays, when the Health Center is not open. He also said that there is an open office in the back that could be reserved for Family Planning to use whenever they are able to.
“My understanding is whatever they could do over at Family Planning, they could do here,” Larson said. “When they give us the word that they would really like to have this space and give us the day then we can start moving right along. We’re very open to whatever they can do.”
Student Senate Health and Wellness Chair and junior Katie Mansfield said that she has heard students express their frustrations about being unable to get contraception on campus.
“I have heard many people complain that they can’t get birth control or Plan B at Health Services. … It seems like something Knox College especially should have, being so at the forefront of thought and ideas. And we of all schools should be on top of that, especially with all our stances toward promoting social justice and everyone having equal opportunities,” Mansfield said.
Advocates for Choice Co-Presidents senior Rachel Kuehnle and junior Amber Simon have been working through their club to increase student knowledge about the facility on Main Street. Last year, the club took groups of students on tours to Family Planning.
“Advocates for Choice is involved in making students more aware of what resources they have off campus,” Kuehnle said. “It is very limited on-campus, so it would be great if Family Planning did come in the winter.”
Simon noted that many students get birth control from their doctors at home, but said that the testing and counseling provided to Family Planning may be the most valuable to service to Knox students.
Along with working to promote Family Planning, Advocates for Choice is planning to hold sexual education discussions with freshman students through Campus Life during Winter Term. According to Kuehnle, the workshop would include information on proper use of condoms and dental dams, healthy sexuality, consent and would have a discussion about misconceptions about sex students might have. One of her main goals is focusing on being inclusive to all students.
“We want to be queer and trans inclusive with our curriculum, and we want to talk about sex in a way so we are not shaming people for the amount of sex they have — whether it’s a lot or some or none at all. So we really want to create a respectful environment,” Kuehnle said.
Simon explained that she hopes the discussions can become an annual event that will provide education to students beyond orientation.
“We just want there to be more sexual education that goes beyond a presentation during O-Week. We want something more than just a little comedy skit about sex,” she said.