Shippensburg University is a school that most often falls below the radar.
Our student body of about 8,000 students rarely makes waves in the local media, let alone in national and even international newspapers and broadcasts.
Until last week, Shippensburg University was recognized as nothing more than a small, Pennsylvania state-supported university.
Today, however, the name of our small state school has graced headlines in newspapers and television reports both locally and nationally.
Unfortunately, these reports have portrayed our small school in a negative light.
The topic? The vending machine in Etter Health Center that dispenses condoms, pregnancy tests, health aids such as lozenges and decongestants and the contraceptive “Plan B.”
Most of us have either seen the machine while meeting with a nurse or had heard rumors of its existence, long before the media had caught wind of the “story.”
Before these reports, though, few had a problem with the machine.
Since these media reports started popping up on Facebook news feed’s and Twitter, strongly opinionated comments, both for and against the health center’s contraceptive dispensing methods, have shown up on websites of major news stations such as CBS, ABC, Fox and even CNN.
The misinformation found in these reports is painting a negative picture of the situation.
Some pieces state that the machine is a new addition to the campus, while others claim that this vending machine may be accessed by the public or teenagers under the age of 17.
These facts, false as they are, have created even more of a media stir than the initial announcement that the pills were being dispensed in an unusual manner.
Residents of Shippensburg, as well as members of various communities across the country have posted their approval, or distaste, of the simple vending machine.
These comments range from a simple agreement or disagreement, to cheers of approval and cruel judgments of our student body.
One post on a college newspaper website expressed distaste from a resident of Shippensburg borough.
He claimed that college students from SU should not be embarrassed to go into town for this controversial contraceptive, based on the generalization that students in our town are all partiers who destroy property and wander drunkenly through town.
This post, as well as the many other opinions that have come from private citizens and well-recognized members of society, such as the governor of Minnesota, is the result of over-exaggerated and falsified information scooped by national media sources.
As a writer, I am disappointed in those who have turned this newsworthy topic into something much more than it is at the expense of students.
Students will soon step out into the work force, and they may have to face conservative employers who disagree with the university’s policy or uninformed members of the public who will look down upon someone based on decisions made by his or her peers.
Overall, the true issue here is not the fact that the machine dispenses a contraceptive, or even that this contraceptive is a controversial tropic.
Instead the idea that negative opinions of those who simply have no affiliation to the university will soon become a stain on our small school’s overall reputation.