Midlands Sexual Health Student Union supports students’ reproductive rights


Grant Rohan

A person holding a sign advocating for reproductive rights
MSHSU Co-President Kenna Barnes talks to students at the Reproductive Rally outside the Milo Bail Student Center. Photo by Kylie Squiers/the Gateway

The Midlands Sexual Health Student Union (MSHSU) held a rally outside of UNO’s Milo Bail Student Center on Oct. 7 to raise awareness for reproductive rights.

Representatives from the campus organization were present to talk with students about reproductive equity, complete with medically accurate flyers and brochures promoting sexual health.

Founded two years ago, MSHSU serves the UNO community as a student-led branch of the Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative. Their mission is to conduct innovative research, mentor students and engage the community in initiatives to support sexual health and well-being, according to the MSHSU website. The student union focuses more on outreach than their faculty counterpart.

MSHSU Co-President Kenna Barnes said they had expanded from their parent organization on campus to connect with students in a more engaging fashion.

“We kind of branched off because we saw that students needed the same interactions in a different way,” Barnes said. “They needed information – they just also needed to have fun while getting that information.”

While located on campus, their reach extends into the community, as well. The organization delivers millions of free condoms each year to different locations around Omaha, and volunteers with Planned Parenthood and local organization Black and Pink, a prison abolitionist group supporting LGBTQ and HIV-positive prisoners.

MSHSU Co-President Brianna Full discussed how important it is for students to take charge of their sexual health and learn about it through discussion.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is end the stigma around sexual health and reproductive health, because it’s really taboo to talk about sex,” Full said. “We want to talk openly about it.”

The organization plans to host its annual “Sexploration” event in February 2020 to end the stigma around sex and discuss it openly. The week-long event will feature interactive panels with both sex educators and senators to discuss topics such as sex in politics and abortion rights.

Students can visit the MSHSU office in H&K Room 231 for free condoms, resources for free STI testing and birth control and to ask questions about sexual health.