Phi Lambda Psi to accept non-Greek women, expand availability of resources

| Contributing Reporter

Non-Greek affiliated women can now apply to join Phi Lambda Psi—a women’s health and wellness honorary devoted to promoting awareness and education and providing a discussion place for women’s health issues. Among the goals of the honorary, the group is hoping to provide pregnancy tests free of cost at more on-campus locations soon.

The honorary interacts with the Washington University community through both small-scale and large-scale efforts. It regularly hosts discussion groups, question and answer sessions and panel presentations on various women’s health issues.

In addition to providing spaces to discuss women’s health issues, Phi Lambda Psi works with Student Health Services (SHS) to supply pregnancy tests to the Zenker Wellness Suite and the SHS women’s bathroom. Junior Zoe Burger, a spring recruitment chair for Phi Lambda Psi, said that additional on-campus locations with pregnancy tests may be added in the future.

“We’re trying to organize getting [pregnancy tests] into the sorority suites, but we’re working out the details around that because we want it to be confidential. We want people to feel comfortable, but we also want to make sure that they’re readily available,” she said.

While providing resources like pregnancy tests is important to Phi Lambda Psi, senior Becca Kolodner, the honorary’s president, said what’s more important is making sure that students have an opportunity to educate themselves about health issues.

“You shouldn’t have to be taking pregnancy tests every day just for peace of mind. You want something that gives you a little more security and comfort rather than hoping that you’re not pregnant,” Kolodner said. “We felt that it wasn’t an accurate representation of Phi Lambda Psi’s values to just have pregnancy tests without having more opportunity for people who are using these services to look further beyond that and learn about other preventative or proactive steps towards their sexual health.”

The greatest change that Phi Lambda Psi has recently enacted is within its own membership policy. Previously, women were required to be affiliated with a sorority in order to join. However, membership has been extended to all women in the Wash. U. community, regardless of sorority membership status.

Kolodner said this change aligns with Phi Lambda Psi’s commitment to inclusivity.

“[Phi Lambda Psi] used to be pretty much exclusively Greek affiliated, so we would only take members from various Greek sororities. This year, we’re opening it up to all women, because we thought it was silly that you couldn’t join this group if you were passionate about women’s health but not affiliated with a sorority,” Kolodner said. “We aim to educate everyone about women’s health issues and not make it an exclusive thing.”

Another focus of Phi Lambda Psi’s work is toward increasing students’ awareness of pre-existing resources for women’s health on campus, particularly with respect to contraception.

“For now, our main focus has been contraception and making sure people know we have resources on campus. We have resources at SHS; you can go get pregnancy tests and IUDs based on the student health insurance that we have,” Burger said. “We work a lot with SHS to publicize those services that they provide that a lot of people don’t know about.”

Kolodner noted that Phi Lambda Psi encourages honest and open discussions in hopes of destigmatizing conversations about sex and women’s health.

“We create an environment where it’s OK to talk about the fact that people are having sex, and where it’s also OK and encouraged to be having safe sex and to plan efficiently and long-term about your reproductive habits,” she said.

Burger hopes that through Phi Lambda Psi’s efforts toward increased awareness and education about women’s health, students will feel empowered to discuss issues they are affected by that would otherwise go unrecognized.

“What I hope that our group does is destigmatize certain conversations that are sometimes hard for people to have on campus and in society. Those conversations can be uncomfortable, but there’s no reason that they should be,” Burger said.

Phi Lambda Psi also helps to orchestrate free STI screenings each semester. The honorary will participate in the upcoming screening in the DUC on Monday, Feb. 13 as part of Sex Week, and its members will primarily play a promotional role by passing out condoms and fliers to students to publicize the event.