The Student Services Finance Committee voted Monday to include a recommendation that allocates University Health Services funds to subsidized emergency contraceptive for all University of Wisconsin students.
SSFC will propose the recommendation, which passed the committee in 13-1-1 vote, to UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
Co-sponsors Rep. Sophia Alzaidi and Rep. Jordan Madden recommended UHS continue working with members of SSFC on expanding accessibility and affordability of emergency contraception and long-term birth control for UW students.
Madden said he and Alzaidi made the proposal more vague in the week since SSFC discussed the initial recommendation after discussions with UHS officials informed them of the programs already in place for survivors of sexual assault and uninsured and underinsured students at UW.
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The committee also approved the formation of a six-member reproductive health care sub-committee tasked with identifying barriers for access to emergency contraception for students and working with UHS to address accessibility issues.
“The recommendation that was received last week was significantly different, but with increased information on our parts, we think that a recommendation that is vague but also specific in focusing on accessibility and affordability of emergency contraception and long-term birth control is important to include in this budget,” Madden said.
Rep. Henry Galles, the sole opposing vote, said he didn’t like the new recommendation because it was too vague. He said the old recommendation was better because it provided a clear path to providing access to oral contraceptives for UW students.
Galles said he worries a vague recommendation will end up not accomplishing anything. He said a plan which cites the efforts other campuses have made in providing oral contraceptives in vending machines would be better.
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“This doesn’t read tangibly to me,” Galles said. “I just feel like there’s got to be something to ground this or else this is typical student government stuff where it says a bunch of stuff but nothing is really done.”
Madden said it was valid to be concerned with the proposal, but assured SSFC representatives a vague proposal paired with a specific sub-committee with communication lines with UHS are the best next steps for increasing accessibility and affordability of emergency contraceptive on campus.
Rep. Zaakir Abdul-Wahid agreed with Madden and said a less prescriptive proposal is better because it will heal the rift which has developed between UHS and SSFC over these issues.
“I think that this is a better solution than the hyper-specific model because [representatives from UHS] disagreed with that version, and this will allow for us to collaborate in the future in order for us to actually come to a good conclusion that we both find to be amenable,” Abdul-Wahid said.
The committee also voted 14-0-1 to approve the budget for UW Recreational Sports.
The SSFC’s list of recommendations will be brought to Chancellor Blank on March 23, after which she will decide whether to follow the committee’s list of recommendations or not.
The committee will tour Memorial Union at their next meeting.