Let's talk about sex(ual resources on college campuses)

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By Kaanan Raja

Coming from a high school that didn’t allot much time to sexual health awareness, my first year at the University of Illinois was definitely a shock. While I lived there during my freshman year, Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall held a “Condom Carnival” in efforts to promote sex education and sex positivity. Students staying in dorms received free condoms as well as pamphlets detailing various topics relating to sex and body knowledge, while also being able to enter raffles, play sex-ed related games and more.

Every freshman also needed to attend First Year Campus Acquaintance Rape Education, a sexual assault awareness program on campus that opened discussion of what constitutes as safe sex and what constitutes as rape.

With all the resources I saw the University provides regarding sexual health, it was certainly discouraging to see our campus come out 38th of 140 universities across the nation on the annual Trojan Sexual Health Report Card. This too, showed our rank has fallen from securing spot 14 in 2014 and the number one spot in 2012. http://www.trojancondoms.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?ArticleId=28

While there are ample sexual health resources provided on our campus, our University cannot be stagnant in how we treat sexual health.

After all, only 54 percent of college students consistently use condoms during intercourse, and four percent use condoms during oral sex. This draws on the importance of sexual health, as the number of STDs and rates of HIV/AIDS can be easily preventable through education and resources that universities should constantly be providing.

Trojan used Sperling BestPlaces researchers to look into these resources across campuses to determine rankings with criteria including: quality of sexual health information and resources online, availability of contraceptives, testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, sexual assault prevention, outreach programs, hours of operation, accessibility of health centers and more. http://www.trojancondoms.com/assets/articleimages/rcmap/Trojan_Sexual_Health_Report_Card_PDF.pdf

Our University actually does provide most of these resources, all thanks to McKinley. The health center has a peer program called Sexual Health Peers Educators. This program is available every week to answer any questions students have. Not to mention, there is continuous free HIV and STD testing available, over 15 free contraceptive options and even condom packages and latex barrier packages you can pick up every two weeks free of charge.

This isn’t even including the pages upon pages of online information on McKinley’s website regarding any questions you might have on sex-ed, nor our campus’s prominent role in sexual assault prevention with programs such as It’s On Us and FYCARE.

With all the available resources for sexual health on campus, it’s easy to wonder why the school continues to drop in the rankings every year.

Bert Sperling, lead researcher of the Trojan Sexual Health Report Card, said, “Other schools are being very innovative in their programs and the types of materials they are putting out. University of Illinois has done very well, but things have remained static over the past couple of years . . . It’s really a matter of other schools being exceptional.” So while the University may not be decreasing the amount of sexual health resources provided to its students, it certainly isn’t measuring up to other universities across the nation.

Take, for example, the most Sexually Healthy University, Oregon State University. The school not only scored perfect among the Trojan criteria, but went above and beyond to develop SexPositive, an app that brings comprehensive sex information to students’ phones. It contains contraceptive methods, videos on safe sex practices and more. Other universities are even starting to also integrate this app on their campuses.

Meanwhile, the third most Sexually Healthy College, the University of Georgia, offers a programs called Condom Express.

This is a free, discreet, mail-delivery service to students that include safe sex supplies such as male condoms, female condoms, dental dams and lubricants. Each shipment even includes instructions on proper use and sexual health resources on campus.

With all these changes other schools are making toward their sexual health curriculum, the University cannot stay stagnant. While our campus certainly provides more resources than most, the University must continue to develop new, innovative ways to keep students safe in the bedroom.

Kaanan is a sophomore in LAS.?

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