SHAG expands on-campus efforts

Every day, Wheaton students participate in a wide variety of extracurricular activities. Some students attend clubs where they play sports or talk about social issues, while others attend those that are for pure fun.

While many clubs appeal to students who fit into a particular niche, the Sexual Health Advocacy Group, or SHAG, is one club that appeals to a very broad population of many different types of students. “I think this is one of the clubs that hits the biggest target group,” remarked SHAG secretary Grace Kelly ’16, emphasizing the inclusiveness of the club.

SHAG’s goal to promote safe and consensual sex is reflected in their current campaign to make condoms more available on the Wheaton campus. Although condoms are always available in the Residential Life office, SHAG hopes to make them more readily available in other ways and other spaces.

Because students do not always feel comfortable taking or buying condoms in public, SHAG is striving to find more discreet ways in which students can have access to contraceptives. One way that SHAG has achieved this privacy for students is by putting condoms in the vending machines in Young, Meadows, and Beard Residence Halls. Kelly commented on the popularity of these new additions to the vending machines, saying, “Two days after putting the condoms out in Beard, there was only one left.”

In addition to the vending machines, SHAG has found other ways to give students access to condoms on campus. SHAG board members not only hand out condoms at SHAG meetings, but encourage RAs to hand them out to their residents as well.

The club is even working on trying to get condom dispensers on campus, as well as making other safe sex supplies available in the school bookstore. Currently, the bookstore’s vendor only provides regular condoms.

SHAG mostly receives their condoms through Norton Medical Center, where Cynthia Maricle, the health coordinator, orders them from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. However, SHAG has recently been approved to receive 500 free Trojan condoms from The Great American Condom Campaign, a project by Advocates for Youth. The condoms come in more types and sizes than those provided by the state. In addition, SHAG hopes to promote safe sex by partnering with Attleboro Family Planning, which will be coming to Wheaton regularly to test for sexually transmitted infections. Another of SHAG’s pursuits is to promote intersectionality, which Kelly explains as “making sure that the resources for safe sex are available for people regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation”.

SHAG hopes to make lubricant, dental dams and female condoms (now called Reality condoms) available, in addition to traditional male condoms. They will continue to promote safe and consensual sex on the Wheaton campus throughout the year by making condoms and STI testing available, as well as other forms of contraception.     

SHAG meets every Tuesday at 7pm in the New Yellow Parlor, where there is sure to be information, discussion, and materials for safe sex.