Every year University students collectively donate thousands of pints of blood through numerous blood drives as part of the Blood Battle with Ohio State University. But under current donation guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some students are barred from donating to help save lives — and beat OSU.

Per FDA regulations, most men who have sex with another man cannot donate blood. This regulation has come under scrutiny in recent years. On Monday, students held an alternative blood drive in order to raise awareness of the issue. In protest of the regulations, students who donated blood on behalf of a friend who isn’t allowed to.

LSA junior Michael Dalton, an organizer of the blood drive, said he the drive represented the launch of “We Bleed Too,” a campaign to raise awareness about the restrictions gay men face in blood donation. Dalton said the blood drive was also meant to build connections between University students and the LGBTQ community.

“I guess (the campaign) doesn’t end until the FDA changes its standards,” he said. “Its campus goal is for communities to come together.”

Dalton said the event partnered with Blood Drives United — which runs the Blood Battle with OSU — and the Spectrum Center. Earlier this month, the Central Student Government passed a resolution supporting the blood drive.

According to an e-mail statement from LSA junior Michael Ho, one of the organizers, the blood drive had 93 people pledge to sign the petition to the FDA and had 39 successful donors. Still, he stressed that this wasn’t a protest as much as a way to raise awareness.

“Blood Drives United wanted to be sure to convey that the sole purpose of this drive was not a ‘protest’ but to just give eligible donors the opportunity to ‘sponsor’ ineligible donors affected by the FDA ban,” he wrote.

Dalton said he hopes to expand the campaign to other universities in the Big 10 and have other universities hold similar events.

Engineering freshman Flavio Fiszman had a friend donate on his behalf. He had gone to a blood drive at the University before, but it wasn’t until he was at the location that he learned he would be ineligible to donate blood.

He said while he was glad that through this event people could donate blood on behalf of those that couldn’t, it isn’t an equal experience.

“I don’t think people should have to do this,” he said.

LSA sophomore Jessica Koolick donated blood on behalf of Dalton.

“(Donating blood) kind of feels like you’re doing something good for your community, for people who you don’t know,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair that I should be able to do that but other people shouldn’t be able to because of who they are and their identity.”

Koolick added that it was a way to reaffirm her support of a friend.

“I hope to show (Dalton) that I support who he is and what he does, and that I support him as a friend.”

—Follow Giacomo Bologna on Twitter at @Giacomo_Bologna.

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