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Club Spotlight: SSIS

By Polina Potochevska

Section: Features

November 10, 2017

The Student Sexuality Information Service, otherwise known as SSIS, is an important student resource tucked away on the third floor of the SCC in room 328. While it might be slightly difficult to find your first time searching for it, SSIS offers a wide variety of services concerning sexuality, sexual health, peer counseling and more.

SSIS was started in 1973 by a group of students who were “passionate about sexual health and education,” according to an email to The Brandeis Hoot from SSIS. Although now on the third floor of the SCC, it was once located in the Airplane Lounge in East Quad, proving its lasting presence on campus. “There are no other groups that offer the amount and variety of safer sex services that we are proud to. We try to embody Brandeis values of social justice by advocating for every student on campus, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity and beliefs.”

SSIS provides many services to students, some of which include access to “discounted safer sex products,” peer counseling, referrals, other resources and “a fun library.” The office is open this semester on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The outer portion of the office is where students can find the library and a resource table. Students can also expect to see “two or three counselors sitting in our private inner office… where our products are located.” Some of the products that SSIS provides are a “wide variety of condoms, lubes and other barrier methods such as dental dams and internal condoms.” In addition, SSIS sells body-safe sex and masturbatory toys, including vibrators and a masturbatory sleeve, three different types of menstrual cups, pregnancy tests, blindfolds and kegel balls.

In addition to coming to the office, SSIS has an anonymous and confidential texting hotline (586-ASK-SSIS), where “folks are welcome to text any questions and comments and an SSIS member will respond within 24 hours.” The number may also be used by students who want to request an appointment in the office during their off-hours.

The SSIS mission statement states that it is a “student-run, not-for-profit, volunteer-based service organization” that promotes sexual health with “peer counseling, educational outreach, quality products, referrals and a library of resources.” Furthermore, it states that SSIS is dedicated to maintaining both confidentiality and professionalism relating to the services it provides for the Brandeis community.

Services are provided regardless of “race, disability, political or sexual orientation, gender, sex, religion or creed, enrollment status, age, sexual experience or preferences,” so students can feel comfortable entering the SSIS office and getting the assistance or information they need confidentially and respectfully. Ultimately, SSIS’ goal is to “empower and educate members of the community in a safe, tolerant and non-judgmental environment.”

All the members who volunteer at SSIS are trained peer counselors, who receive training “by both internal Brandeis organizations and local external organizations.” An email written to The Brandeis Hoot also clarified that although the SSIS members are not certified, “all SSIS members are trained and educated by professionals in issues of sexuality, sexual health and wellness.” SSIS is non-hierarchical instead of being run by an executive board, so “all members have an equal say in group decisions.”

The SSIS Facebook page frequently posts updates on office hours, new products available for purchase and upcoming events. This semester, SSIS will be using feedback from the Brandeis community to plan events that interest students, and are “excited to continue to uphold our values of confidentiality and distributing safer sex information and products to anybody who seeks them!”

So far in the semester, SSIS presented during First-Year Orientation, as they do annually, and hosted a Kinky Crafts Night in October. One more large event will be held by the end of the semester, with more details to come that will be posted on their Facebook page.
To become more involved with SSIS, there is an application process that begins in the spring semester “around early March.” The application process itself involves both a written application and an interview.

The Student Sexuality Information Service is “happy to serve the Brandeis community” in a wide variety of ways. The members are well-trained and prepared to help students with whatever services they need. They “welcome all of you to check out our office and other resources anytime!”

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