Monday night’s presentation in Dickinson Community was not your typical free-food RA event, as a Planned Parenthood employee debunked sex myths and distributed Plan B to the student audience.
Roughly 30 students went to Whitney Hall’s study lounge to participate in the discussion led by Ticia Eaves, a community educator from the Binghamton branch of the family-planning organization.
Afua Donkor, a resident assistant in Whitney and a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said she planned the talk because there was a lack of events of its kind.
“This year I didn’t see any events that addressed sex education,” Donkor said. “I knew Planned Parenthood would make it fun and informative.”
Eaves, the speaker at the event, said it was important that students know how to protect themselves.
“A lot of them think they do it correctly and really they don’t,” Eaves said.
Eaves informed students that Planned Parenthood offers STD testing, pregnancy testing, well-men and yearly health examinations.
“We see both men and women,” Eaves said. “And a lot of our services are low-cost or free for students.”
During her presentation, Eaves used games and visuals to make it easier for students to understand common misconceptions about STDs and pregnancy.
One of the games showed that every person could have been exposed to HIV just based on one encounter. She also debunked the myth that multiple partners or unprotected sex is the only way to contract the disease.
“Planned Parenthood is anything to do with reproductive health care,” Eaves said. “We see anyone who is of reproductive age. We can give birth control, we give condoms away for free. We can now give emergency contraceptives for free through a grant from New York state that allows us to do it.”
Eaves asked students which STDs they knew about and then gave them information that a few found surprising.
“The most common STD is trich and most people don’t even know about it.” Eaves said, referring to trichomoniasis, a cause of vaginitis. “And the most common symptom of an STD is nothing at all.”
She also asked students which STDs are treatable, but not curable. Many students in attendance knew the answers.
“Herpes, HIV, HPV and Hepatitis C are all treatable, but not curable,” Eaves said. “Gardasil is for men and women now. We recommend getting shots before you’re sexually active, but if you’re already sexually active, you can talk to your doctor about it.”
Eaves reminded students that they should know their partners’ sexual history and that they should be tested every three to six months.
“If you’re in a relationship or not, it’s really important,” she said.
Eaves gave the students bags of condoms and free Plan B emergency contraceptives.
Adam Rasefske, a sophomore majoring in computer science, said he thought the event was engaging.
“It was fun and informative,” Rasefske said. “We got free sex stuff.”
Julianne Rocco, a freshman majoring in biology and a Health Services employee, also enjoyed the free goody bag and useful information.
“It was educational and really informative,” Rocco said. “I thought it was great that she was giving away Plan B for free because we don’t even do that here at Health Services.”
Donkor was happy people left the event feeling more informed.
“Everyone was really responsive, they were a great crowd,” Donkor said.