Without Palin, abstinence panel draws small crowd

| News Reporters

More than half of Graham Chapel was empty during a panel on abstinence Monday night.

The low attendance was a sharp contrast to what students had expected only two weeks ago, when Bristol Palin was approved by Student Union Treasury to be a member of the panel.

After hundreds of members of the Washington University community voiced their complaints, the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) decided to withdraw Palin’s invitation.

The panel was conducted instead with representatives from Student Health Services, the Catholic Student Center, Planned Parenthood and the Washington University School of Medicine.

The panel focused on educating students about maintaining sexual health.

Some attendees attributed the low attendance to the fact that Palin was not speaking. Many thought that the people who protested against Palin coming to campus should have attended the panel.

“It is probably a lot smaller than the Palin event would have been. It’s a bit disappointing actually,” said senior Candace Girod, editor of X-Magazine, the bi-annual publication of the Student Forum on Sexuality. “After getting her ousted, you should have the decency to come to the event.”

In spite of low attendance, Girod thinks the panel was better without Palin.

“The fact is that she is not abstinent and has not gone to college, I don’t see what she had to say that would have been better than what these people had to say,” Girod said.

The panelists discussed topics ranging from sexual health to unwanted pregnancy, as well as the possibility of being an abstinent in college.

Troy Woytek from the Catholic Student Center spoke about the merits of being abstinent as a student.

“Wash. U. students are smart…to believe you are not capable of making smart decisions sexually…is frankly an insult to you,” Woytek said.

The representative from Student Health Services discussed options for students who have unintentionally become pregnant, or who have contracted sexually transmitted infections.

According to Student Health Services, 50 percent of STIs are diagnosed in people between 15 and 24 years of age.

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