Inquiring minds wanted to know, so the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) is here to answer some of those burning college questions. From doubts about your roommate’s odor to sexually transmitted infections, we here at SHAC are as excited to answer your questions as a monkey is to flea-pick their cousins. Before you go home for the holidays, here is some food for thought.

This is my first quarter at UCSB, and I really don’t know where to find health resources. Where can I go to find out information?

It always surprises us that students – even seniors – have yet to learn that UCSB has a student health center. And even more astounding, it’s located on campus right by the El Colegio campus entrance and across the street from the Thunderdome. And just because they can probe into no-man’s land doesn’t make them scary either. In fact, Student Health offers such services as an optometry facility, dentistry, physical therapy, a women’s clinic, a pharmacy, health education, urgent care and general medicine. In addition, a nurse adviser is available from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to answer on-hand questions.

If you’re going to go through all that effort to hike to the west end of campus for some rash advice, why not get college credit for it? Student Health offers ED 109: Health Education; Soc 91A: Relationships; Soc 91B: Drugs and Stress; Soc 91F: Community Health; and DA 90: Community Theater. There is also sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, women’s annual exams, birth control, free condoms, smoking patches and vitamins. What more could a college student want? For more information on services, call 893-5361.

I have heard about the morning-after pill. What is it and where can I get it?

Sometimes things just happen. Your bike is stolen for the third time in one quarter, your ever-so generous professor bestows a pop quiz when you’re hungover, and sometimes condoms break. When these emergencies arise, you need a backup plan. Since nothing short of abstinence is 100 percent full-proof, you may need something the next morning, hence the need for the “morning-after” pill. It is an emergency contraceptive with a high dosage of birth control that is best taken 24 to 72 hours after unprotected sex. This should not be confused with RU-486, the early option pill that causes medical/chemical abortion. A student needs only to come to Student Health and complete a questionnaire during an appointment with a practitioner before a prescription is written. The prescription can be filled at Student Health’s pharmacy for $23.40 and is covered by GSHIP with a $20 co-payment and by USHIP for a $10 co-payment.

Another option is for women to request this prescription at their annual exam and then fill it at a later date within one year. This is an effective backup plan in case your primary contraceptive method fails while away from Student Health, by allowing you to fill the prescription at another pharmacy. You may also fill the prescription and keep the pills until it is needed or the pills expire. There are several pharmacies in the Goleta area that provide the “morning-after” pill, including Walgreens on Calle Real, for approximately $20-$25.

The “morning-after” pill is relatively safe. However, you may experience some side effects like nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness or infertility. Most importantly, this emergency contraceptive does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Also, the “morning-after” pill is for emergencies only and is not to be used in lieu of preventive contraceptives such as condoms or birth control.

The SHAC student liaisons are John Fry, a senior history major, and Monique Sherman, a senior political science and law & society major. Students with health questions should email Student Health Patient Advocate at .