U. Pinks Out to Support Planned Parenthood

Let’s talk about sex. More specifically, let’s talk about what Christina Thumann, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, called, the “problems, misconceptions and misunderstanding” our community holds on the topic.

RU Choice: Vox, a student organization that works with students and Planned Parenthood to start a dialogue about sex and sex education, brought Pink Out (or #PinkOut on social media) to Rutgers this Tuesday. 

“We can’t be silent anymore about it. It’s time to get loud,” Samantha Kelly, School of Arts and Sciences junior and treasurer and vice president of RU Choice, said.

All over the University, RU Choice was tabling, handing out flyers, chalking the sidewalks, taking white board pictures, hashtagging and encouraging students to support the not-for-profit organization by wearing pink on a “day of visibility” as Kelly said in an outline of the day’s schedule.

These tables were all tools to make the subjects of sex and sexual health approachable and the club’s resources accessible, like its connection to Planned Parenthood. The tables gave away condoms and informational handouts about contraception and Planned Parenthood's services. 

Rhiannon Jones, School of Arts junior and president of RU Choice, said that despite all of the statistics available, it is “personal stories that touch people in a way facts can’t.”

Pink Out is focused on creating a visual representation of the support for Planned Parenthood, especially as the not-for-profit organization becomes increasingly visible in the media. Kelly believes now is the time, more than ever, to show everyone that Planned Parenthood has a support system.

Jessica O’Hanlon, the public affairs manager at Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ, said standing with Planned Parenthood means supporting women’s and young people’s abilities to make smart and healthy decisions.

Students can follow this support with the hashtag #StandwithPP.

The large presence of social media and the visual representation of an estimated 400 students at Rutgers who showed their support (according to Facebook RSVPs) are just parts of the growing conversation about sexual health. 

Emily Selmon, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences first year, said organizations like these attract her because they open a discussion about the facts, regardless of what media wants us to believe.

The club is also a resource for information and communication tactics. Jones and Kelly both recalled how difficult it can be to interact with someone who doesn’t share the same views as them about Planned Parenthood because of misinformation in mass media.

Matthew Middleton, a School of Arts and Science senior, attended the RU Choice meeting and plans to stay an active member in the organization because of the skills it provides to start a dialogue about the importance of Planned Parenthood.

“It’s important to understand what actually happens there instead of what the media wants you to think,” Middleton said in reference to the video created by the anti-abortion activist group, Center for Medical Progress.

“2.7 million women and men in the United States annually visit (Planned Parenthood) for trusted health care services and information,” according to PlannedParenthood.org.

Only about 3 percent of their services are abortion-related although that aspect dictates a lot the conversation, Kelly said. She believes Planned Parenthood should be thought of as a health center for anyone still questioning their legitimacy.

Rutgers is a sex positive place, which can overwhelm students who enter the University without prior sexual education, Kelly said. Therefore a goal of RU Choice is to continue to promote a sex positive environment to share personal stories, ask questions and hear “it’s okay to have sex” as long as you’re safe.

O’Hanlon called this “the best RU Choice year ever,” in terms of members, enthusiasm and commitment to the cause. The Pink Out has just been a starting point for the semester. Later in October there will be a roundtable discussion with guests from Planned Parenthood and RU Choice Alumni. There will also be a Sex Olympics, a sex positive carnival featuring a “Nuva Ring Toss” and “Pin the IUD on the Uterus.”

RU Choice hoped to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood is supported and won’t back down. It will continue to be active and inclusive to, as Thumann said, show support to an organization that helps millions of people across the country.

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