This fall, a club new to Whitman–called Planned Parenthood Generation Action–has been focusing on the sexual health and education of Whitman students. While the club mostly attracts young women, one or two men participate in the weekly meeting, made up of about 30-40 people. Planned Parenthood Generation Action is a group on over 275 college campuses across the country, which tends to focus on education and advocacy on behalf of women. There are 16 different chapters of PPGA in Washington alone, including at Bellevue College, Evergreen State College, and the University of Washington. The meetings change every week, addressing a different form of sexual education from meeting to meeting.
PPGA works closely with the health center of Planned Parenthood in Walla Walla. The club started at the end of last year but wasn’t well known about on campus until this fall when the club started to become more active and started hosting weekly meetings Wednesday at 7pm in Maxey 206. The club utilizes a collaborative leadership team of 6 women because according to Hirano, a sophomore, hierarchies can create patriarchal notions. The leadership works collaboratively to create lesson plans for the week and consider advocacy issues on campus.
The group started because Hirano and junior Kyla Rapp saw a need on campus for sexual health education. Rapp emphasized that Whitman students seemed to have a lack of sexual education from middle or high school. Rapp said she was surprised by the amount of misinformation and general lack of knowledge surrounding sexual health on Whitman’s campus.
“I think that even though Whitman’s a really liberal campus, or at least that’s the way people see it, there’s a big need for sex ed,” junior Kyla Rapp said.
Hirano said that the club primarily focuses on issues students are most interested in. When students ask questions about sexual health during the meetings, the leadership of PPGA then tries to build weekly lessons around those questions.
“The reason why we started PPGA chapter at Whitman College is because…one thing about college students is not all of us have access to health care and a lot of us do depend on planned parenthood to get our resources so we saw a big need for that and we also saw like an absence of comprehensive knowledge of sexual education.” Hirano said.
Annelise Ellingboe, a first year, is co-president with Rapp. After the Presidential election, the group tried to create a safe space for students to talk about how they were feeling in regards to their sexual health in lieu of their regular meeting. Students were free to voice concerns and questions surrounding the next President and how it would affect them personally. Each meeting of the club has a different theme, and is flexible depending on what students want to discuss.
“When women’s health is compromised, everyone’s health is compromised,” Ellingboe said.