TU needs to improve its sexual health resources
Trojan (of the condoms) has released a Sexual Health Report Card every year for the past 11 years. They compare the information available about on-campus resources for sexual health at 140 colleges across the United States, which account for one third of undergraduate students in the U.S. The report looks at 11 criteria and ranks colleges in relation to one another.
To do so, they complete an exhaustive internet search, pulling data from anywhere from the schools’ websites to Reddit.
They also send out 2-page questionnaires to each school, which their Student Health Center fills out and sends back to Trojan, along with other goods from their school such as sunglasses or pens.
The research focuses on the quality and quantity of resources available to students, not about the students’ sexual health on a person-by-person basis.
Bert Sperling, lead researcher on this project, emphasized that the point of the report was checking resources “so every student can make their own best choice.”
This year, the University of Tulsa dropped 10 spots, from 109 to 119. Sperling explained the change in rankings and what sets some colleges apart from others. Factors in that included TU’s lack of online resources and other schools’ improvements in education and outreach.
For instance, Sperling noted that TU does have 10 condoms for $1 available at the Alexander Health Center, but that information could only be found on Reddit.
He described a “rising tide of information” on sexual health in universities, and pointed out that TU has simply failed to continue to improve the ease of access to this information in a way that keeps pace with other schools, thus the drop in ranking. In TU’s favor are the university’s “sexual violence prevention” tab on the school’s home page and similar programs, iStand and Red Flag campaigns, and social media efforts, among other factors.
As information is increasingly made available, it’s worthwhile to ask what improvements can be made. This question is exactly what makes Trojan’s Sexual Health Report Card a successful and worthwhile report.
Schools that have exceeded expectations set the curve and, in true college fashion, TU should be ready to learn from them. One phenomenal way to improve the availability of sexual health at TU would be to licence the use of, or at least promote awareness for, the University of Oregon’s app, SexPositive.
Currently, three schools use the app: University of Colorado Boulder, University of Maryland, and the creator, the University of Oregon.
The app opens to a disclaimer screen that reads “By clicking Continue, you agree that you will express and obtain explicit consent from everyone involved before engaging in a sexual act,” before going on to explain the definition of explicit consent and that no personal information is tracked or shared by the app.
Users are shown a wheel where they can choose various acts, and then explore the risks associated and ways to minimize those risks. Users are eased into the app by the opening combination, “when a finger touches a toe.”
Below the wheel are four sections, “S.T.I. Risks,” “Safer Sex Practices,” “Communication & Advice,” and “Spin Again,” which lets you randomize your results.
An app as a resource promotes anonymity, ensuring the safety and comfort of students. To encourage the university to utilize this app or similar apps, you can contact the Alexander Health Center.
Another easy way to boost not just TU’s ranking in the annual report is to consider columns in the on-campus newspaper. Several schools utilize their health center’s professionals, members of faculty, or even their student staff to foster a safe and informed environment for students.
Columns come in the form of sexual health reminders, relationship advice and anything in between. If this is something that is deeply interesting to you, come to a Collegian meeting and propose the idea or talk to a writer to see what can be done about your questions.
Sexual health is important. You don’t have to put your personal life on display, and the Sexual Health Card certainly isn’t asking you to. But I hope that you and your friends stay safe.
I hope you check out the SexPositive app, and talk to the Alexander Health Center about TU utilizing it. I hope you go to programs put on by the halls on campus that provide contraceptives and information.
I hope you make informed decisions about what you do with your body. And while I think this university does strive to make sure that you have the resources to make those decisions, I also believe that we can do better, that life is about improvement and that you, the student body, deserves the best possible resources when it comes to your health.