A panel of six men sit in front of a room full of women at the UB Women’s Healthcare and Wellness Association’s “Hot Seat” trivia event.
Questions ranging from female anatomy to women’s reproductive products flash across the large screen on the wall as the six males guess the names on their whiteboards.
A picture of a nail polish holder appears.
Perplexed, confused and bewildered expressions face the screen.
The men are stumped. Guesses from menstrual products to a Ring Pop fill their whiteboards.
Reilly Donovan, one of the individuals who guessed a Ring Pop, finished in the top half of the trivia event.
“I got second place so I was pretty proud of myself,” Donovan, secretary of UBWHWA, said. “It was just a lot of fun having everyone judge me for the ones I got wrong but everyone celebrating every time I was right. It was just a really fun experience.”
The UB Women’s Healthcare and Wellness Association (UBWHWA), officially established this semester, is “dedicated to promoting and advocating for the healthcare and overall wellness of all women,” according to UBLinked. UBWHWA provides up-to-date resources regarding sexual assault, female-focused sex education, contraception availability, women’s reproductive rights and more.
UBWHWA President Daysia Augustin, a junior neuroscience major, decided to start the club after scrolling through UBLinked, feeling as though an organization focusing on women's overall health was “missing” at UB.
It all started one week after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Augustin was in her room with three close friends and mentioned that she wanted to pursue the new club, which she believed was needed “now more than ever.”
Those three friends soon became the UBWHWA’s e-board.
Hana Samad, a junior biomedical sciences major, is the vice president; Donovan, a junior history major, is the secretary; and Dior Gillins, a junior electrical engineering and media study major, is the treasurer.
“We immediately jumped on,” Samad said.
Once UBWHWA’s application and club constitution was approved by SA in the spring of 2022, the members moved swiftly to turn their vision into a reality.
The club compiles online resources for students to use and will soon be sending them out in monthly newsletters, which can be found on the UBWHWA’s UBLinked page.
“They [students] have other ways of finding support, especially if they feel like, as a student, their transportation is limited,” Augustin said. “That’s always been a big thing in my mind, is showing that there’s resources where you don’t have to leave your home if you’re not able to.”
Besides online support, UBWHWA also provides information during its in-person meetings. Samad believes that this in-person connection allows students to feel more comfortable getting acquainted with the resources they have to offer.
During the last general body meeting about sex toys, Augustin was more than willing to speak openly with students, even if she wasn’t particularly close with them. She opened the floor for any questions or recommendations. A few members came up to Augustin after the meeting for guidance.
“That was really memorable because they genuinely trusted me,” she said. “I gave them a couple of recommendations and they were like, ‘Thank you so much. I don’t really talk about this.’”
It’s moments like these that encourage UBWHWA to keep talking about women’s health. The club hopes to eliminate the stigma around female pleasure and make UB students more comfortable with the subject.
“It’s not just us teaching people but also it’s more of an inclusive type [of] club where everybody kind of just joins in and talks about what they personally use,” Gillins said.
These discussions are a collaborative effort, allowing students’ voices and concerns to be heard.
The general body meeting also consisted of education on female anatomy and different types of intercourse. Augustin had Donovan jump into the conversation to give a “male perspective” on some topics.
While it may be awkward at first, UBWHWA emphasizes that these conversations are a part of the process.
“As a guy it’s pretty normal to talk about that kind of stuff,” Donovan said. “It was a little uncomfortable sharing it with everyone, but it wasn’t overly weird.”
Samad says that women talking about sexual pleasure is often stigmatized. She hopes the club can change that narrative.
“We want to give you the information so that you feel empowered with whatever choice you make, whether you want to be celibate or whether you want to have a ton of hookups,” Augustin said. “Whatever you choose to do, it’s your body. We just want you to feel empowered with your choices and have that information to feel confident in whatever you choose to do.”
Women’s health and wellness also incorporates the safety of women. To make students feel more comfortable on and off campus, UBWHWA will be hosting a self-defense class with the University Police Department. Augustin says the club is “ironing some details out,” but hopes to host the event before the end of this semester.
Augustin acknowledges that male- and nonbinary-identifying students may see the name of the club and feel as if they don’t belong, but insists this is not the case.
“Everyone is welcome,” she said. “We do have people who identify as male who come into each meeting and are very supportive of the club.”
Donovan fully expected to be the only man in the club, but he is greeted with new friendly faces — consisting of men, women and nonbinary people — at every meeting.
“You don’t have to be a committed member, we’re very open to having members at any point in time,” Augustin said. “All people are welcome.”
The news desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org