Condom dispensers have been removed from dormitories on ASU campuses, and students and administrators cannot agree on what role the university should play in educating students about safe sex.
Karen Moses, director of ASU Wellness, said condom dispensers at Taylor Place dormitory on the Downtown campus were removed in August.
“ASU understands the need for health education, and will continue to take the lead on educating and equipping our students and this is not a responsibility we ask of our campus retailers and vendors,” she said in an email.
ASU Wellness, Health and Counseling services provide student-centered health education, campus resources and health products to ensure students make healthy and well-informed choices, she said.
When asked why the dispensers were removed, Moses did not directly answer but said, “workshops such as ‘Frisky Business’ are offered through ASU Wellness to provide education about sexual health and healthy relationships.”
Student government senators have cut direct funding to provide condoms to students, said Sam Tongue, director of finance for student government and a journalism junior.
“That doesn’t mean student organizations couldn’t still spend that money on them,” he said.
Some student organizations are taking matters into their own hands.
Jennifer Reed, director of advertising and public relations for the Residence Hall Association and a communications senior, ordered a supply of condoms that will display the RHA logo on them.
“I also noticed the lack of availability (of condoms) to students,” she said. “If we want to promote safe sex, we should actually start promoting it.”
Reed ordered 5,000 condoms for about $1,000 that will be available for students in the spring semester, she said.
RHA receives a fee of $26 per resident, which is divided between different aspects of the association. This allowed public relations and advertising to have an $8,000 semester budget, Reed said.
While working at Manzanita Hall during her sophomore year, Reed said condoms were available at the residence hall and at Health Services for free, though a limited supply was offered.
“After that year, I haven’t really seen that advertised at all,” she said. “As a senior this year, I think the only thing I’ve seen is a safe-sex poster.”
The only reason Reed said she could think of as to why there aren’t as many condoms available on campus is lack of funding.
“It’s almost ironic considering how cheap they are,” she said. “With the amount of students we have, we should be concentrated in keeping them safe – not just on campus, but in their bedroom.”
Some students don’t think it is the university’s obligation to supply students with condoms, such as journalism freshman and Taylor Place resident Malcolm Brinkley.
“Being sexually active has nothing to do with education,” he said. Educating students on safe-sex practices should be up to the parents, not the school, Brinkley added.
The deficiency of condoms on campus is a mistake that should be reversed, said Emily Broome, a public service and public policy senior and president of DPC Aware, a student advocacy group for health awareness.
“Students need these resources available so they have the opportunity to practice safe sex and make responsible decisions,” she said in an email.
Sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS are still epidemics, and students need to be educated on how to prevent such illnesses, she said.
A 2008 study conducted by Trojan Condoms ranked ASU as 119 out of 139 schools and universities for sexual health. The university has since improved to a rank of 83 out of 141 universities, according to Trojan’s 2011 study.
“The university has an obligation to make condoms available,” Broome said. “Most importantly, condoms should be available in the dorms and in the health and counseling centers. They have this obligation because they have a responsibility to promote a healthy and safe lifestyle.”
Michael Gonzalez, president and founder of Advocates for Downtown Equality, said it’s not necessarily the university’s responsibility to provide condoms to students, but the decision to remove the condom dispensers should be reversed.
Without the availability of condoms you will have an increased probability of unsafe sex between students, which could lead to unwanted pregnancies and STDs, said Gonzalez, a tourism development and management sophomore.
Advocates for Downtown Equality and DPC Aware both recognize the issue and provide free condoms to students whenever the organizations have table events on campus, but there is a limited supply.
It’s not clear how the university should address the issue, Gonzalez said, but bringing condom dispensers back to Taylor Place would be a good start.
“Honestly, it doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “The machines in Taylor Place should still be there.”
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