Enter Student Health Service with a cold, leave with a few extra condoms.
In previous years, SHS has been selling packs of 12 condoms for $3. Now when students go up to the cashier, they can get condoms free of charge.
The free condoms are “an attempt to make it as easy as possible for students who want condoms to get condoms,” said Sharon McMullen, Director of Campus Health Initiatives — a division of Student Health. “It’s all about removing barriers.”
The new condom policy has been in the works since last year. SHS decided to look into their process of condom distribution in order to determine the best possible way to streamline the process for students.
They began working to implement the new free condom policy, which was based on their findings from a series of focus groups of faculty, students and staff that looked at student experiences in purchasing condoms from SHS. Women’s Health currently and will continue to offer free condoms.
“We just wanted to assure ourselves that our workflow was not impeding students’ ability to get condoms. That it was not another barrier,” said McMullen.
In order to notify and encourage all off-campus, graduate and professional students to take advantage of this new service, Student Health Service will be distributing 2,000 postcards – each with a free condom attached – to announce the new changes, said Ashlee Halbritter, Health Educator at Campus Health Initiatives.
Along with providing free condoms for all students, SHS has been partnering with the college houses and encouraging house deans to create a better system of distribution of condoms among their students .
“We continue to provide thousands of condoms to college houses. What’s new this year is that each house dean is crafting a distribution system that best serves that community,” said Halbritter.
Utsav Schurmans, house dean for Ware College House, said that in past years its was up to the Residential Adviser or Graduate Adviser to be responsible to pick condoms for their residents. However, if an RA decided not to go pick up their condoms, then there would be no one else in the college house who would bring it for their residents. “Now they are all coming in one big shipment to the house so in that sense its certainly easier,” Schurmans said.
Schurmans will be distributing them to his RAs and GAs individually and is having them hand the condoms out in the manner they feel is appropriate for their hall .
Women’s Health doesn’t reach all of the student population, one female student noted.
“I think if I was at Student Health, anytime I went I would probably get one, if I were in a serious relationship,” said a female senior in the College who did not want to give her name for privacy reasons. “Guys probably wouldn’t go to the women’s center [for free condoms] but they would go to Student Health for it.”
The purpose of the new policy is to ensure that everyone who wants access to condoms has the opportunity to do so.
“We want to make sure that we are not standing in the way,” said McMullen.