Trojan wraps up its college sexual health report

By Ashley Berger

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The good people of Trojan condoms want to protect you from sexual malady.

Earlier this month, Trojan, the nation’s top-selling condom brand, released its fifth-annual Trojan Sexual Health Report. The report card consists of two studies indicating changes in sexual health attitudes and trends on college campuses nationwide.

According to the report, sexual health is increasingly becoming a much larger political and social issue across colleges, and has a much bigger impact on students’ lives than ever before.

This year, Columbia University notched the top spot, moving up three spots from number four last year. Much of Columbia’s high grade comes from its implementation of a new Internet resource called “Ask Alice,” which allows students to anonymously ask sex related questions.

The top five schools included Columbia, Michigan State University, Ohio State University,  University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Brown University. Chicago State University, Marshall University, DePaul University, Brigham Young University, and the University of Idaho rounded out the bottom five.

The research was conducted by independent research group Sperling’s BestPlaces.

“These schools do well for a reason. They have good programs and continue to build on those good programs,” said director Bert Sperling.

“Schools that don’t do well do not necessarily have bad programs, but tend to keep the same programs in place while other schools move ahead,” he added

Sperling added that it’s almost a competition of sorts; as schools are constantly engaged in races to be at the top of various rankings and categories.

“Students like to see where their school ranks because they are competitive, they want to know what they can ask for from their school,” said Sperling.

“Student Health Centers take the study seriously because they want to see what other schools are doing and how they can improve based on that,” he added.

When the survey first came out five years ago, it only included 100 schools. In the years since, it has expanded to include 141 schools, which Sperling explained covered over 30 percent of undergraduate students in the United States.

“We want to impact the most students as possible with the survey,” said Sperling. “The schools we pick are based on influence, reputation, size, and athletic conference.”

The report is organized by athletic conference, and for the first time in three years, the Ivy League has not dominated the top five. However, Ivy League schools jumped the farthest in ratings this year; Harvard climbed 46 spots from 62 to 16 and Princeton rose 53 spots from 61 to eight. This year, the Big Ten reigns supreme, with some of the schools previously mentioned such as Michigan and Michigan State taking over the top five.

The report card categories are: health center hours, availability of patient drop-in and appointments, availability of separate sexual awareness programs, contraceptive availability and cost, HIV testing, cost, and locality, other STI testing and cost, availability of anonymous advice via email, existence of lecture and outreach programs, existence of student peer groups, website usability and functionality.

The University of Massachusetts has individual qualities that fit in with these categories. Though University Health Services’ (UHS) website does not have an anonymous question forum, the website provides information that points students in the right direction. UMass offers HIV and pregnancy testing. The University also puts on free HIV testing clinics, and allows students to be screened anonymously.

UMass also provides STI screenings, as well as screening for vaginal and urinary infections by appointment. All services are available at University Health Services.

As well as testing, UHS also offers immediate and convenient emergency contraceptive choices for a significantly lower price than most other pharmacies. The UHS website also offers a litany of information on a variety of birth control methods, all of which are available through UHS.

“I know that you can be screened for sexually transmitted infections, but I don’t exactly know where to go,” said sophomore Tim LeBlanc. “The University could do more to publicize our options. If I thought I needed to be checked out though, I would definitely figure out how to do it.”

Sophomore Kelcie Sims was impressed with the variety and cost of services on campus.

“It’s nice that there are so many options of birth control that are available so close,” she said.

“The prescriptions are also much cheaper than places like CVS, which is obviously a huge factor,” she added.

Trojan has also paired with Rock the Vote, a service encouraging young people to vote and raise awareness for issues facing their everyday lives. The two partnered to increase dialogue about sex across campuses. According to data released by Rock the Vote, about three-fourths of young Americans think educating their peers about safe sex and birth control would be a better way to reduce teen pregnancy.

Ashley Berger can be reached at [email protected]