Ranking: University soft on sex education, condoms

by Mike Enright

The University does an average job of providing sexual health information to students, according to a study released by Trojan condoms last week.

The University ranked 54th out of 100 U.S. colleges surveyed on how well they provide sexual health education and support services to their students.

Jim Daniels, Trojan’s vice president of marketing, said in a news release the study is intended to improve sexual health at colleges.

“We feel that comprehensive education and access to information is the best way to ensure people make smart decisions about protection should they choose to be sexually active,” he said.

Trojan gave each school a “Sexual Health Report Card,” handing out letter grades in seven subjects. The grades were combined to calculate a grade point average for each school.

The University’s Trojan GPA was a 2.0. Yale University was the only school Trojan gave a perfect 4.0. Brigham Young University came in last place, getting F’s in every category.

Trojan hired researcher Bert Sperling to perform the study. Sperling said his company tried to gather information by contacting student health centers at schools, but had trouble getting the information they wanted.

“What we decided to do was go online to see what resources were available to the typical student,” he said. “Often this is the first way they would get information.”

The study gave the University F’s in three areas: condom advice and availability, contraceptive information and the presence of a sex advice column.

Dave Golden, Boynton Health Service’s public health and marketing director, was surprised when he heard the University failed in the condom category.

“Wow, you’re kidding,” Golden said. “I can’t imagine any difficulty with condom availability Ö they’re out all over the place.”

Golden said the University distributes more than 100,000 free condoms each year through a variety of sources. Besides Boynton, condoms are available through student health advocates and community advisers. And many are also given away at events such as homecoming.

Sperling said he was “relatively sure” condoms were available at the University.

But, “for some place to get F’s means it wasn’t mentioned on the Web site,” he said.

Golden also said he wondered whether the University’s ranking had anything to do with the fact that it doesn’t offer Trojan condoms. The University buys Durex condoms.

Dave Dorman, University health advocate program adviser, said he is skeptical of the study results.

“I disagree with at least a few of the grades,” Dorman said. “My opinion is probably the study is a little bit flawed.”

He said that if a student were looking only on Boynton’s Web site for sexual health information, then they might have some trouble. But, he said, most students know where to go if they have questions and are happy with the services the University provides.

First-year political science student Bianca Blomquist said she doesn’t think it’s easy to find sexual health information on campus. Although she’s been to Boynton and seen groups handing out condoms around campus, she said the University could be doing more to educate students.

“I never learned how to put a condom on; I think I watched a porno or something,” Blomquist said. “Just handing out condoms doesn’t necessarily teach people how to use them.”

But Dan Zepplin, co-chairman of Sexual Heath Awareness and Disease Education, a student group, said the study seems inaccurate – especially the condom distribution grade.

“If giving out 110,000 (condoms) a year isn’t good enough, what is?” he said.