UI falls behind in sex health ranking

The University is the 65th most sexually healthy school in the nation, according to the annual Trojan sexual health report.

The report ranked 141 American universities and colleges across 12 categories, including health center hours of operation and contraceptive availability and cost.

The report, conducted by an independent firm but funded by the makers of Trojan brand condoms, did not rank schools by prevalence of sexually transmitted disease but instead by resources available to combat these diseases.

The University suffered a staggering fall from 14th place last year, losing 51 places in a year. Bert Sperling, president of Sperling’s BestPlaces, the independent research firm that conducted the study, said this decline does not mean the University is doing a worse job, but that other schools are simply doing a better one.

“I like to use the image of a marathon race. All of these people in the marathon race are moving forward and they’re moving towards the finish line but when you take a snapshot at any particular time they may change position. So they’re not going backwards and they’re not doing worse, it just means they’re being surpassed by other competitors,” Sperling said.

When asked what the University can do to improve in next year’s rankings, Sperling’s main suggestion was an anonymous sex question-and-answer.

“It would not only be of service to the students that have the question, but usually for every question there are probably hundreds that have the same question but haven’t initiated the action to ask it,” Sperling said.

Sperling also suggested the school could improve promoting drop-ins at the health center, provide more information on contraceptives, and hold more lectures and outreach programs.

David Lawrance, medical director of McKinley Health Center said that “it goes without saying that anything can be improved,” although he did disagree with some of the findings of the report. He said the center provides enough opportunities for drop-ins, one of the categories that were evaluated for the report.

“That’s about a third of our business,” Lawrance said. “STI (sexually transmitted infections) testing and questions like that — that’s one of every three people we see all day long.”

Lawrance considers Sexual Health Educator Kim Rice’s counseling and education to be one of the best resources at the health center.

“She has a large peer education group that goes out to a lot of places on campus, to fraternities and sororities and to other places that let them in and do educational programs,” he said.

Lawrance also mentioned a vast array of things offered by McKinley.

“Pharmacy has quite a few $5 birth control pills, they actually cost us more than students to buy,” he said. “We thought it was important to have as many low cost pills as we could. It also has Plan B for a pretty low price. If you want an HIV test, all you have to do is ask. We also offer gonorrhea and chlamydia testing. These tests are all covered by the health service fee.”

Some students believe the sexual health resources on campus are sufficient, although there are complaints with their method of administering these resources.

“We think that the resources like the McKinley Health Center and Planned Parenthood are great, but we are pushing for a more comprehensive sexual education in the dorms,” said Anna Ros, junior in LAS and member of Advocates for Choice, a Registered Student Organization promoting a woman’s right to choose.

“I haven’t noticed a change in the quality of resources provided, but I’ve always thought it was strange that there was a limit on the number of condoms an individual student can receive at one time,” said Samantha Matook, senior in LAS.

Lawrance said that advertising the resources McKinley has to offer is one of its main challenges.

“Not everybody knows about everything, so that’s one of the issues over which we scratch our heads — what’s the most effective way to get more information out there.”