Putting sex education to work: WGERC provides students with condoms, lubes, and more

The Women and Gender Equity Resource Center provides students with necessities for their health.

The+Women+and+Gender+Equity+Resource+Center+located+in+the+Division+of+Student+Affairs.

Nicholas Windfelder.

The Women and Gender Equity Resource Center located in the Division of Student Affairs.

Ma. Emilia Santander, Copy Desk Chief

A recent survey has shown that three out of five students have experienced anxiety and stress due to lack of basic needs like housing, food and childcare. Students may experience difficulties obtaining necessities like pads, condoms, soap, nursing pads or even a supportive environment to talk or breastfeed.

The Women and Gender Equity Resource Center (WGERC), located on the second floor of the Breezeway in room 224, can provide all of these necessities.

Jamie Vaughn, an FAU alum, was recently promoted as assistant director of the WGERC.

“This space was intended for students to come and have a safe space to hang out,” said Vaughn.

Students hanging out at the Resource Center. (Nicholas Windfelder)

Part of “Owls Care Health Promotion”, the WGERC provides items related to sexual health, as well as assistance and information for Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing, maternity clinics and abortion clinics.

For students and organizations interested in the program, the WGERC puts on events, workshops, and meetings to talk about taboo issues, such as menstruation or STIs.

Maria Yepes, a current senior majoring in psychology with a minor in sociology and a certificate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, works as a staff member at WGERC.

“I particularly love this [workshops] because it’s all about peer-student educators teaching other students and spreading information that is so important, but rarely talked about,” said Yepes.

The Gender Unicorn teaches students about different sexual orientations and gender identities. (Nicholas Windfelder)

Items such as lube and condoms are available in different locations on campus.

In the student housing buildings, WGERC and Owls Care provide “safer sex kits” which contain six condoms, one package of water-based lubricant, and one instruction pamphlet. Latex-free safer sex kits are also available at each front desk.

Students can take sexual health products for free at the Center. (Nicholas Windfelder)

“I really like how we offer free sexual health items to students. Many students come to us when they need these items because they know we have them and obtaining them is very simple,” said Andre Betancur, an employee of WGERC. “And of course, we can answer any questions they may have about certain items and how to use them and/or what their purpose is.”

While sexual health is important, self-care is equally important at the center. WGERC provides everyday necessity items, like pads and soaps.

“If you menstruate, you menstruate. There is no holding it in, you have to have a pad and people will have sex, it’s just going to happen,” said Logan McGraw, director of communication of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “So, whether we like it or not, these things are necessities. Better to have them there if people need them, rather than maybe try and hide it away, because it can be a little bit taboo.”

Menstrual items are accessible in the women’s bathrooms on the second floor of the Breezeway and the gender neutral bathrooms at the Schmidt Family Complex in buckets the WGERC has dubbed as “The Period Pail.”

Vaughn expressed that there are talks of providing these products around campus, but that it’s difficult to achieve due to the individual management of each building and the limited access of their staff to other buildings.

For students who struggle with mental health, the center provides stress balls, aromatherapy bags, pronoun pins, a listening ear and even compliments.

“Maybe you’re having a moment and you come in and you grab something out of the compliment jar. We gently suggest that they read it out loud, so we all can hear,” said Vaughn. “Every time a student reads it, they’re like ‘Oh my god, that was so good. That made me feel good.’ So to know that there is a space on campus that kind of has your back, thinking about your well being, that’s a peace of mind.”

Informational pamphlets are available for students. Photo by Nicholas Windfelder.

Most staff members of the WGERC had gone into this office for the first time as FAU students. Now as staff, their mission is to provide the same support they received.

“I believe it’s extremely important for students to have access to these services. A lot of the things we offer are not always so easy to get outside of the university, especially for free,” said Betancur. “I think the fact that we can offer students different services along with knowledge and guidance is very beneficial because students can then take that knowledge with them when they leave the office.”

Ma. Emilia Santander is the Copy Desk Chief at the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, you can reach her on Instagram @milla_11 or email her at [email protected]