Budget Cuts Affect Choices’ Plans This Year

In light of the budget cuts to many Clark clubs this year, Choices, Clark’s sexual health center that doubles as an event planner, has been forced to make new decisions about spending. As the only resource on campus for inexpensive contraceptives, menstrual products, sex education, and even sex toys, these decisions affect everyone on campus, not just the club members.

When in need of safe-sex products, or an answer for that one question that might have suspicious responses on Google, Choices is often the quickest and most convenient resource for Clark students. “Friends don’t let friends buy condoms at CVS; there’s no point and it’s not worth it when you can get so many more here for half the price!” says Elyana Kadish (‘17), co-director of Choices. Convenient, inexpensive options have always been important to college students, and Choices still considers these services a top priority. However, with budget cuts, however, some aspects of Choices may be functioning a little bit differently.

Unlike most clubs at Clark, Choices is a self-sustaining, non-profit organization. Because it is completely student-run and operated by volunteer peer-educators, there are no paid staff members, which means that the money made is spent completely on purchasing products. So, when a student stops by the office to pick up 10-cent condoms, (that’s right, 10 cents), that money is then used to purchase more.

Kadish explains that a number of years ago there was some dispute from Clark students about whether the school should be supporting the purchase of contraceptives and sex toys. As a solution, the program uses most of their club funding to support their events rather than products, with a little spent on initial purchases at the beginning of the year. However, this means that budget cuts will primarily affect the number of events Choices can run this year, says Kadish.

This is not to say that Clarkies should start panicking about where they might find important items when they are in need this weekend. Because the services and products that Choices provides are so helpful to the student body, they remain in full operation. Although Kadish commented that it was disappointing to have to choose between two very important parts of the program, she and the club are determined to keep providing the vital services that Choices offers.

“In the past we’ve gotten grants from the Student Sustainability Fund and the Sierra Club,” says Choices co-director Logan Bishop-Van Horn (‘17), but “those ran out last year and so we’re looking for other grant opportunities.” One concern of the club is the specific need for Diva Cups, an alternative menstrual product that Choices sells for a subsidized price. Other products found in the office are sold at exactly the same price at which they were bought, with discounts for non-profit organizations. However, Diva Cups are exempt from these discounts. They are normally sold at around $35-$40, while Choices offers them to students for $20. This means that the club loses money when selling them. Bishop-Van Horn explains that more grant money would make it easier to keep offering this important product by offsetting profit loss.

Despite budget cuts and some worry about future purchases, the club is still managing to put on fun, sexy events for students to look forward to. Clark’s First Time, an open mic encouraging students to share the story of their first time doing… whatever, will still be held, as well as Sex Toy Bingo, an event that filled up the cafeteria last year. For their first event, Bishop-Van Horn says, they are thinking of holding a workshop or movie screening, which would be a fun event for anyone who might not feel like sharing an awkward “first time” story.  “Come to our events!” says Kadish, “we love to have new faces at events. We do them for you guys so the more people there getting interested and learning new topics… I mean that’s what we’re all about.”