Sexual health rank seems questionable

According to a study commissioned by condom manufacturer Trojan, the University is ranked 65th in the nation for on-campus resources that encourage sexual health.

At first glance, our ranking may sound solid. But consider that only 141 schools nationwide were in the running, and the University ranks dead last in the Big Ten — with four schools in the conference placing in the top 10 overall.

Does this reflect poorly on McKinley and other wellness centers’ abilities to promote sexual health through the dissemination of contraceptives, tests and information? Not necessarily, but there is something to be said about our drop of 51 places in the rankings from last year, when we were ranked 14th.

The firm that conducted the study for Trojan said other schools have integrated an interactive question and answer discussion that allows for anonymity when asking potentially embarrassing sexual health questions, and that was partially the reason why our rankings dropped so dramatically.

While the University has not created such a platform yet, condoms are still available for free at various locations campus-wide, and birth control and sexually transmitted disease tests are available at little to no cost for students.

The question then becomes: Are we supposed to take a study on sexual health at its word if it was commissioned by a company with a financial stake in selling contraceptives? If that did not signal a red flag for conflict of interest, then a glance at their study will.

The packet outlining their findings had as much text about Trojan’s new products as it did sexual health resources. In fact, specifics regarding the study’s findings are minimal, as a lot of their analysis compared rival college conferences and which schools gained and lost the most spots.

This is not to say that McKinley does not need improving; there are always ways to improve the quality of the University’s sexual health resources, but there is no reason students should be disturbed by the company’s findings.

We should be skeptical if the company funding the study can benefit from the study’s findings. That doesn’t mean we should be afraid to take some of the survey’s suggestions; a sexual health question and answer forum could be incredibly helpful. We should find a balance of skepticism at the source and enthusiasm to always be improving our resources in this area.