The Halifax College Students’ Association (HCSA) has challenged the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU) to introduce a new sexual health corner within the college grounds.
James Mortimer, Vice President for Wellbeing and Liberation at the HSCA, has asked YUSU for assistance in setting up a “condom corner” based on a policy proposal submitted last month to YUSU’s policy process.
In his proposal, ‘Sexual Health Corner Policy Proposal’, Mortimer asks for a contraception corner to be situated within Halifax College.
Halifax College is “often forgotten” by the University when it comes to “wellbeing services and supplies,” Mortimer’s proposal states. This, he writes, has led students to lose confidence in their Students’ Union:
In addition to sexually transmitted infections, a lack of sexual health corner for Halifax students leads to Halifax students feeling excluded and disenfranchised with YUSU, many asking, “What have YUSU ever done for me?”
“The time is now, for YUSU to show their commitment to the sexual health of students,” Mortimer writes, claiming that, if the proposal were adopted and were a success, “YUSU would be illustrating as an organisation they are truly serious about sexual health and willing to support college teams” in providing adequate contraceptive supplies.
Mortimer’s proposal also refers to an “increased number of students disenfranchised with the [Students’ Union]” as seen in the recent Officer Elections. During these elections, an organised Re-Open Nominations campaign called for students to vote RON and seek another election in which reforming YUSU would be the subject of discussion.
Mortimer’s policy proposal follows the news, reported by The Tab in February, that the HCSA created a petition asking YUSU to provide the college with a “condom corner”.
“We do not ask for much, yet YUSU refuse to provide us with some sexual health supplies due to limited supply” the HCSA told The Tab at the time, adding that “YUSU needs to stop ignoring what the students in Halifax want”.
Despite this, Mortimer told The Yorker that the HCSA’s relationship with YUSU was still strong and they were working together on this issue.
Halifax has launched the long overdue sexual health corner in our mail room that offers condoms, lube, dental dams and pregnancy tests to students free of charge. We have worked hard to ensure that Halifax is not left behind and our students are protected from sexually transmitted infections. We are so proud that the college and [the] Halifax College Student Association (HCSA) have provided funds to provide these supplies. We are now one step closer to being a healthier college and a happier Halifax.
Mortimer has succeeded in establishing a temporary contraceptive supply for Halifax College students, but asks for YUSU’s assistance to achieve a long-term solution.
The Yorker also contacted Mia Shantana Chaudhuri-Julyan, the Community and Wellbeing Officer, who cited limitations on funding:
Having been lobbied by the Vice-Chair of Wellbeing for Halifax [College] to pay for Halifax’s condom corner after the Committee pledged that YUSU would supply this without discussing the feasibility with anyone at YUSU in advance, the Advice and Support Team and myself met with them a number of times this year to discuss this.
YUSU works in partnership with YorSexualHealth who supply us with sexual health supplies for which we are required to provide monitoring stats. These supplies are limited and demand outstrips supply so there is a main condom corner on both the West and East campuses to ensure that they are accessible to as many students as possible.
Supplies are also provided to Nightline, which are readily available to Halifax students who also have access to Nisa. We have been unable to secure further supplies, however we have offered to assist with finding alternative funding or looking at using the existing college budget, which is in place to help fund committee activities and manifesto proposals.’
Chaudhuri-Julyan told The Yorker that she and YUSU will continue to work with local partners to promote positive and accessible sexual health across campus but does stress that if Halifax College received individual funding, other colleges would have to as well. Chaudhuri-Julyan said that YUSU would “love to be able to fund all kinds of activity in this way” but that the organisation was constrained by the deficiency of funds.
The Yorker has also contacted Halifax College Student Association and James Mortimer for further comment.