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Introduction: Student Sexuality Information Service

Hello, Hoot readers, and welcome to the new SSIS Hoot column! We are so excited to be starting this column and answering student questions about sex and relationships, but first, we’ll go into a bit of background information about SSIS itself.

For those who don’t know, SSIS stands for the Student Sexuality Information Service. We are a confidential, student-run, volunteer-based resource that has existed at Brandeis since 1972. Our aim is to cultivate a safe, sex-positive community while satisfying all Brandeis students’ sexual health needs. This includes running a comprehensive library, selling affordable safer sex and sexploration products (e.g. barrier methods, pregnancy tests, lubrication, sex toys, etc.), offering peer support and on-campus/off-campus referrals and leading dorm raps and workshops for on-campus education. All members of SSIS are trained to provide support and information for a variety of topics including but not limited to: relationships (romantic, sexual, platonic, polyamorous, monogamous, etc.), sexuality and gender, sexual techniques (oral, vaginal, anal), BDSM and kink, birth control, STIs, products, sexual violence or trauma and mental health (Disclaimer: Though we are a confidential peer resource, we must disclose in cases of elder and child abuse and intent to harm self or others).

Our office, located in SCC Room 328 (“all the way up and to the back!”), is a safe and non-judgmental space for all students. Our office hours are Mondays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. If none of these times are convenient, feel free to text 586-ASK-SSIS to set up an appointment.

Though we already offer peer support and education in person, by phone call and through text, we are excited to now be offering a weekly column answering students’ sexual health questions. We will be setting up an anonymous poll on our Facebook page, so please feel free to ask any questions about sex and relationships there, and we will do our best to answer them! Below are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

Here are some FAQs about SSIS:

How much are condoms? How much are pregnancy tests?
Condoms, like all of our barrier methods, are 10 for $1
Pregnancy tests are two for $1 and come with an information sheet

Where can I get Plan B?
Plan B can be purchased at most drugstores for around $50 though prices will vary slightly.
The health center also offers Plan B during their normal hours at no cost! (Note: They are only open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept cash and checks! There is an ATM downstairs on the first floor of the SCC, if needed.

Are your condoms and pregnancy tests the same effectiveness as what we could find in a drugstore?
Yes, absolutely! Many of our products are the same as what you would find in a drugstore. We are just able to offer them at a cheaper price because we buy them in bulk and they are subsidized by the Student Union.

What if I can’t make it to any of your office hours but need peer support or products?
We can be reached 24/7 for peer support through our texting hotline (586-ASK-SSIS) and will respond within 24 hours. However, if you need products or would prefer to meet an SSIS member in person, you can text the hotline times that would work, and we will find someone to open the office for you!

How can I join SSIS?
Applications are open in the spring semester for admission in the following academic year, and we encourage anyone who is interested to apply!

I want to plan an event with SSIS, how do I do this?
Great! Please email ssis@brandeis.edu with the details of your events, and we’ll do our best to make it happen!

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