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Unplanned Pregnancy an Issue on College Campuses

Free condoms in Health & Wellness Center

Published: Thursday, April 23, 2009

Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2009 01:04

A trip to the emergency room for what she thought was an allergic reaction to her favorite seafood, led to an unexpected discovery for William Paterson University sophmore Joceline Binns.

That night, she found out she was four-to-six weeks pregnant.

"I'm so scared," she said, "How am I going to deal with school, work, and a baby?"

College students facing unplanned pregnancies confront a myriad of issues, not only
personally, but also academically. Binns, for example, is taking 15 credits at WPU and works two part-time jobs to support herself.

Binns said she plans to continue to attend college and work through the summer. She said she may take the fall semester off or take online courses during that time. For Binns, her pregnancy did not alter her academic plans.

"I am determined to finish and don't see any other way," she said.

According to the WPU Student Handbook, pregnant students like students with any kind
of significant medical issues that occur during the course of the semester, may apply for a leave of absence, provided that their GPA is 2.0 or greater.

Dean of Students Glen Sherman said that if they qualify for a leave of absence, they may
take one or two semesters off as needed, and return to the university without having to reapply for admission.

"Since I have been dean of students, there have been only a few students that I am aware
of who have needed to do this," he said.

According to a study conducted by the Higher Education and Student Affairs Program at
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 12 percent of college students report either experiencing or being involved in an unplanned pregnancy, although this percentage may be as high as 23 percent when accounting for unplanned pregnancies that go unreported.

When faced with unintended pregnancies, besides caring for the children themselves,
college students may turn to emergency contraception, adoption, and abortion.
Jill Guzman, associate director of the Counseling, Health and Wellness Center said,
"They need to reach out to as many resources as possible…A student needs to make a
decision that is best for them, but also needs to be informed of all their options."
Students may seek assistance with unplanned pregnancies on their college campuses. At WPU, the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center, located in Science Hall Room 104, offers students full birth control options including oral contraceptives, NuvaRing, free condoms, and the morning-after pill. Peer health advocates regularly do programming and presentations on safe sex and pregnancy prevention. Health professionals go into classes, freshman seminars, and speak at club events on methods of prevention.

"We also include some abstinence education stressing this is the only 100 percent
prevention method against unplanned pregnancy and STI's," Guzman said.
Outside of the Counseling, Health and Wellness Center, pregnant students may seek
support at the Counseling Center in Morrison Hall Room 115, and Women's Center in
University Commons Room 217. For academic concerns, there are Academic Advisement Services in Student Center Room 301, and Disability Services in Morrison Hall Room 132.

Guzman said, "Outside of our university, Planned Parenthood is a great resource and
gives students options."

Planned Parenthood, with centers throughout New Jersey, offers services such as abortion referrals, birth control alternatives, emergency contraception, patient education, pregnancy testing and services, and STD testing and treatment.

Prevention for unintended pregnancies has been impacted by an increase in birth control
pricing on colleges since 2007, when the Deficit Reduction Act removed discounts on
prescription birth control, available to college students and low-income women at health centers.

When the legislation went into effect, birth control pricing at college campuses increased
from free to $7 a month to $30 to $40 a month.

As for Binns, she has the support of her boyfriend of seven months and her mother.

"It's going to be a journey," she said.

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