Sex isn’t taboo anymore, so support for safe sex and awareness across college campuses shouldn’t be either. American students face a great deal of modern day challenges: finding a college, finding housing, finding a job and, of course, finding a partner.
And, when you finally find that special someone now, you have other challenges to face: lube, condoms, more lube, pap smears, birth control pills and more condoms. That’s it for safety, right?
Knowing what is available and safe for you, your body and your partner can be difficult, time consuming and even embarrassingly scary. But it shouldn’t be. It should be easy and painless (ideally both emotionally and physically). Many college campuses across the United States, such as Columbia University, Princeton and Cornell have taken action to provide the education and resources that college students need to lead healthy sex lives.
Why this sudden concern with sexy safe sex? Because of the less than sexy numbers of sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs or STIs).
According to the Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2010 Edition, schools like Columbia University are working hard to stay at the top of the list of schools that make being safe a little easier. The report card reflects the satisfaction of students with such things as campus health centers, accessibility of STI testing, and availability of condoms and other contraceptives. Schools that lacked the most, according to student surveys, are Brigham Young University and the University of Idaho.
The idea behind these annual studies and surveys is not to simply inspire universities to improve their health resources, but to inspire students to think about what’s available to them and what is not.
As a result of these yearly rankings, universities and the attending students have worked hard to improve sexual (health) satisfaction. For example, Columbia University provides a website, Ask Alice, which gives students the option to submit sexual health questions anonymously online rather than going to the health center.
After reading such a report, one can’t help but wonder about our own school.
While SCAD is not ranked on this particular list, it is interesting to guess where it might fall. Student health centers at the ranked schools were evaluated based on 13 categories:
• Student opinion of health center
• Hours of operation
• Allow drop-ins or require appointments for student scheduling
• Separate sexual health awareness programs for students
• Contraceptive availability—free or at cost
• Condom availability—free or at cost
• HIV testing on-site (on/off campus, cost)
• STI testing on-site (on/off campus, cost)
• Anonymous advice for students available through center (email, phone, text)
• Lecture/outreach programs for sexual health issues
• Student peer groups
• Availability of sexual assault programs, resources or service
• Website usability, functionality
It’s important to ask questions. Can SCAD students get free condoms? For that matter, what are the best condoms? Can we be tested for STIs for free? When is the student health center open? Where is it again?
Most of us should ask these questions because we enjoy satisfying sex, but, to continue our enjoyment, we must be safe. It’s important for everyone to be aware of what is available to them and to be comfortable to ask how they can be safer in bed, or wherever they choose.
To start, SCAD does not technically have a university clinic and as a private school, SCAD operates differently than the universities mentioned above. The Memorial Health Clinic, located at Liberty and Bull streets, provides clinic services to SCAD students for discounted prices. The clinic itself will provide sexual counseling by appointment, samples of birth control pills and discount cards for drug reps.
They do take walk-ins (I know, because I have walked in before and they took me). However, to clarify, the SCAD clinic hours are as follows:
Monday-Wednesday: appointments 9-11:30 a.m. and walk-ins 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Thursday: walk-ins all day 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (closed for lunch 11 a.m.-1:15 p.m.)
Friday: appointments all day 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (closed for lunch 12 p.m.-1 p.m.)
Without insurance, I was apprehensive about the cost of a yearly pap smear but with the SCAD student discount, the price was reasonable (about $185 for a routine physical with a pap). SCAD prices vary between $45 to $185 depending on what type of visit and what, if any, insurance covers.
My nurse practitioner had excellent bedside manner and I would recommend her to others, though I was disappointed with the time it took to receive my results. Eventually, and thankfully, I received the medical thumbs-up for my check-up.
As a young adult, always take initiative when it comes to your sexual health. Ask questions and be aware of what SCAD and the Memorial Health Clinic have to offer. Perhaps even ask for more.
If you have any questions about safe sex, awareness programs, or other general questions that you feel need to be answered, email me.Contact Shannon Gentry.