Condom Card, a program affiliated with Student Health Services, seeks to lower sexually transmitted infections, educate students about safe sex, and increase its presence on campus.
Previously known as Condom Club, the program implemented a few changes to bring in a larger portion of the student body.
Julie Martin and Courtney Gonnering are the Reproductive Health Peer Educators (RHPE) on campus that run the program which is available to students of all orientation.
“We’re here as a resource for students on campus. We want to promote sexual health and encourage safe sexual practices. Use condom sense,” Gonnering said, promoting the program’s slogan.
Until recently, students could purchase a card containing five punches from the group for $5. With this card they could receive five condoms per punch, a total of 25 condoms.
With the new system, the Condom Card is able to stop charging students and begin giving the condoms away for free. Students that stop by will still receive a card but only for record keeping purposes. With each punch, they can pick out five condoms of their choosing. This freedom of choice is a unique advantage because students have the ability to mix and match to their likings.
“I love what they’re doing. Providing students with an easy way to get free condoms is a great idea. Plus, it gives the added bonus of encouraging safe sex,” said Amanda Ross, a health science pre-physical therapy junior.
“It’s like shopping at Kohl’s versus shopping at Target. A small shirt might fit you at one place and not at the other or you want all the colors available at both stores without running all over. Mixing and matching eliminates that problem,” Martin said.
The RHPEs provide a wide variety of condoms for students to pick from. This selection includes female condoms, lube, bare skin, Trojan Ultra, Trojan ENZ, flavored condoms, and pleasure dome condoms, among others.
“We understand that there are things like birth control and other contraceptives. Not everyone needs our services. We just want to be here for those that do,” Gonnering said.
Along with providing condoms, Martin and Gonnering also act as personal resources for those who want to receive sex education information.
“We’re not doctors and we can’t offer a diagnosis, but we’ll answer any questions with to the best of our knowledge. If we don’t know, we can find someone that does. We can also act as mediators for anyone who feels more comfortable talking to us,” Martin said.
Condom Card started last spring after the RHPEs attended an American College Health Association conference. The goals are to lower the STI rates on campus and to erase the social stigma that surrounds condoms.
“We’ve been around for a year now. People are starting to get desensitized to us. They don’t always do a double-take when they see our booth,” said Martin.
Since the beginning of the 2012 fall semester, Student Health Services reported 46 Chlamydia cases, seven human papilloma cases, and one case of gonorrhea. According to the Center for Disease Control, two thirds of all STI cases occur in 18-25 year olds.
One of the strategies that the educators use to try to cut back on these numbers is to put on programs within the residential halls. A few of the programs include Porn and Pizza, Condom Bingo, and You Just Said What, which is a sexual myth buster game.
“We want people to know we’re not trying to say have sex. If you decide to have sex, have safe sex,” said Martin.
Condom Card can be found in the Dreyfus University Center concourse. The booth is set up and the RHPEs are available on Wednesdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m., Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.