Safe sex pilot program begins in Commons

Condom dispensers installed in freshmen residence hall

By Kirby Paulson

Commons1.jpg

Condoms.

Now that I have your attention, an accessible safe sex pilot program is underway in Commons.

Quinnipiac’s Student Government Association (SGA) installed new condom dispensers which are now located in the laundry room of the freshman residence hall.

In an email to students, SGA said that if successful, the dispensers may be distributed to other residential halls.

“If the trial run goes well and students treat it with respect, we hope to implement this in other residence halls across campus,” it stated.

Junior Class Senator Julia Schade said that freshmen residence halls could possibly be the first to see the further installation.

“I think the plan is to expand gradually, so maybe implement in other freshmen (residence halls) first and gradually add to the others after that,” she said.

An example of the new condom dispensers that have been installed in Commons.

An example of the new condom dispensers that have been installed in Commons.

Christy Chase, Quinnipiac’s director of student health services, stated that a national uptick in sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are one reason for this sexual wellness initiative.

“It has been an increase in gonorrhea, chlamydia, more so chlamydia I would say,” Chase said. “Syphilis has also started to rear its ugly head again and you know, we're not really sure what the reasoning is behind that.”

Schade and Junior Class President Anna Nardelli assisted in completing this initiative after former representative Hope Estrella got the ball rolling. The two worked with departments on campus including student health services, facilities and residential life to get them installed.

“I think it’s huge,” Schade said in regards to the program getting the green light. “I think it just shows how much power the students have and how much we can make changes happen that’s going to benefit the students.”

Schade said Commons was chosen because of its population.

“I think it was just because they have both guys and girls on the same floor,” she said. “It just kind of made it easy. There’s a large population of freshmen students in there.”

The discussion for the location started with the idea of putting condoms in the bathrooms of Commons. However, there were concerns of the possibility of vandalism which ultimately led to the final location.

“So, originally we were talking about putting them in the bathrooms, one girl bathroom, one guy bathroom in Commons,” she said. “But then with the vandalism we decided to put them in the laundry rooms.”

Mark DeVilbiss, Quinnipiac’s director of residential life, had reservations about the vandalism when discussing the program.

"My worry was that people would not be respectful of the dispensers or the effort,” DeVilbiss said. “I’ve seen the dispensers, they’re plastic, they can be broken very easily and so that was my whole concern was just the whole student behavior piece.”

However, DeVilbiss stated that he hopes the students will not only use the dispensers, but also educate themselves as well.

“Well I hope that students utilize the resource and I hope they learn something about sexual health along the way,” he said. “Students already have access to the free condoms through the student health services but if this makes it just a little bit easier, that’s great.”

One hope is that due to the easy accessibility of the condoms, Quinnipiac students may be more motivated to practice safer sex. Chase believes in this, but thinks it needs to be in conjunction with education and some programming.

“But then to know, OK, I'm in the moment or whatever I can run down to within the dorm, you know, for those people that it's accessible,” Chase said. “So I do think I would foresee it being helpful.”

Emma Hunt, a freshman and resident of Commons, echoed the importance of this accessibility.

“I think the dispensers are a good idea,” Hunt said. “Condoms are expensive and having dispensers in the dorm is more convenient than having to walk to the health center which could be closed when you get there.”

She also said that the accessibility of the dispensers could lead to safer practices on campus.

“Because the condoms are free and in a convenient place I think people will feel more comfortable getting condoms so they’ll be used more often which in turn mitigates the spread of (sexually transmitted diseases) around school,” she said.

This is a fact sheet that the Student Government Association has attached to the dispensers.

This is a fact sheet that the Student Government Association has attached to the dispensers.

Austin Calvo, SGA’s vice president for student experience and a former Commons resident, also highlighted the accessibility of the condoms.

“I think it’s just the concept that if people want to have sex, they’re going to have sex and this gives them more of an open, private way to get condoms if they can’t afford to get them, can’t make it to Walgreens to get them, can’t go to the health center when it’s open,” Calvo said.

Kevin Parker, Quinnipiac’s prevention and wellness educator, said it was important to understand the stigma around getting tested for sexually transmitted infections. This includes the asking of the question “when was the last time you got tested?”

“That might not be a question that people right now feel comfortable asking each other,” Parker said.

The program will run until May 3 and if successful, will be implemented in other residential areas around campus.

“If (the program) goes well in Commons and I really hope that it does, I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be like an across campus thing when we come back in the fall,” Calvo said. “Having access to condoms is never a bad thing, you know?”