Student opinions differ on accessibility of contraceptives on campus

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A UT student takes a couple of condoms from the University Health Services Center on Friday afternoon. Annually the organization gives out more than 47,000 free condoms to the UT student body.

 

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

Though University Health Services distributes more than 47,000 free condoms every year, some students think that access to contraceptives on campus is insufficient. 

Junho Ahn, the College of Natural Sciences’ Student Government representative, has spoken publicly about his planned resolution calling for an increase in condom availability.

“Considering the amount of students on campus, it just doesn’t seem like [47,000 condoms] would be enough,” Ahn said. “One of the problems, I think, is that people don’t have access to them during the appropriate times and students off campus have a harder time getting them.” 

Jessica Wagner, health services health promotion manager, said students are allowed to pick up three free condoms a day from bowls located at the Health Promotion Resource Center on Dean Keaton during regular business hours. Wagner said every “Healthy Horns Play Safe Condom” comes with a package of lubricant and an informational sheet on how to use condoms and make healthy sexual choices.

“We offer three free condoms a day, so, if students come in on a Friday, that means they would have condoms for the weekend as well,” Wagner said. “We do that so it won’t be a barrier that we’re not open 24 hours a day. Generally, our mornings are slower for our condom bowl.”

According to health services spokeswoman Sherry Bell, condoms were first made available to students in the mid to late ‘80s, following the outbreak of HIV/AIDS.

Wagner said health services places two large condom orders to a vendor every year, once before the fall semester and once before the spring. According to Wagner, the condoms are not purchased using state or federal funds or tuition fees.

Wagner said health services takes student feedback into consideration when selecting the appropriate brand to distribute. Currently, health services distributes Crown brand condoms.

“There are three main things that dictate [which brand] we select,” Wagner said. “Cost is certainly one of them — availability is another. Because we order in such a huge quantity, we have to go to a distributor or vendor who can accommodate the big orders. Also, importantly, we go on student feedback.”

Management senior Jesus Cortes is among students who do not approve of the University’s distrubtion of condoms. Cortes said he believes by handing out condoms, the University actively promotes sexual promiscuity and what he considers to be other negative behavior within the student body.

“As a Catholic, I am against condom distribution,” Cortes said. “The Catholic teaching says that one’s sexuality should be living a chaste life until marrying, that way the purpose of sex would be within the realm of marriage. Unfortunately, when condom distribution happens, it’s sort of promoting an active sexual lifestyle that isn’t necessarily within a relationship that’s a marriage.”

Wagner said there are varying viewpoints when it comes to sex, but health services tries to provide students with the opportunity to make healthy decisions.

“We value everyone’s opinion on the subject and, when you’re talking about sex, there are lots of opinions,” Wagner said. “We’re aware that some people choose not to have sex or that some people might not be fully supportive [of condom distribution], but, for us, we think it is an important health promotion tool.”

Alexander Limas, healthy sexuality program assistant, said when he was a peer educator students typically were not too embarassed to accept offered condoms.

“We do get giggles and sometimes a stern ‘no,’ but, for the most part, a lot of students feel comfortable just reaching in our baskets to grab a condom,” Limas said.