The Oscars come but once a year: Winton, save the tux and help us afford the Pill

By Kaia Arthur

Realistic dialogue and a condom were the only things I didn’t see coming as I watched Ellen Page cross the plush carpet of a rumpus room to straddle Michael Cera. Juno, how grateful you made us all for the green and tuxedo condoms that Winton practically shoves down our pants.

Yes, Health Services is obviously interested in preventing unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of STIs, but how far do three condoms anonymously sent to your SPO really go toward achieving that goal?

They certainly don’t go as far as an oral contraceptive provided at a subsidized rate by the college.

At Winton, appointments are free and the nurse practitioner can prescribe the Pill, but at Bates College in Maine, for example, they also fill the prescription on location at a lower cost than at a pharmacy. By buying birth control in bulk, they are able to provide it to students more cheaply. They record this cost as an un-itemized health expense that they then cover in the comprehensive tuition fees.

Macalester students, on the other hand, must go to the pharmacy to fill out prescription at a higher cost. If we choose to use insurance to cover part of the cost, we most likely have to explain the purchase with our policy’s holders: our parents. We’re adults capable of making our own decisions, but that doesn’t mean we want our parents to know what all of those decisions are.

Aside from the issue of privacy, oral contraceptives allow a woman to be in complete control of her pregnancy prevention. I’m not knocking condoms, but a woman shouldn’t have to ask a man to put one on in order to have safe sex, and the Pill allows her to determine the use of her birth control down to the minute of the day when she takes it.

So in recognition of student privacy and for the sake of convenience, why doesn’t Macalester make it easier for us to get the Pill?

According to Associate Director of Health Services Kathy McNaul, Winton has never operated as a pharmacy, and in its current location, Winton could not even store the drugs. They cannot choose from the roughly hundred different types of oral contraceptive. Fundamentally, McNaul says they lack the financial resources to provide subsidized birth control costing them between $15 and $75 per month for each prescription while continuing those free appointments that could cost upwards of $100 at an OB-GYN’s office.

In short, it would cost a lot of money to provide students a private and most efficient contraceptive.

How much money?

Our endowment is $675 million, compared to Bates’ $275 million, according to its website. Despite the financial strain of providing students both free appointments and cheap birth control, Bates Medical Services manages to stay open twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

They also supply Plan B, the emergency contraceptive, which does not require a prescription. They acknowledge the urgency of sexual health issues as much as students’ privacy, and all for affordable prices or free.

Macalester’s deficiencies in providing oral contraceptives aren’t a financial problem. They’re a priority issue.

If Macalester wants to continue paying lip service to sexual health, it needs to put its money where its mouth is and subsidize oral contraceptives.

Contact Opinion Editor Kaia Arthur ’10 at [email protected]