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Where’s the Sex Ed in College?

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By , 19, Staff Writer Originally Published: May 30, 2008 Revised: August 28, 2012

At my college, there’s a 30-minute “freshman seminar” that involves watching a poorly filmed and horribly acted movie on how to protect yourself against sexual violence. Not counting a human sexuality class that’s available only to third-year psychology majors, this is the closest thing we get to sex ed.

I know there are colleges with campus health centers that provide sexual health information and services to students. But my school isn’t one of them. Our campus health center is equipped to deal with a wide range of sicknesses, viruses and injuries. But when it comes to sexual health, they send students elsewhere.

Not counting a human sexuality class that’s available only to third-year psychology majors, this is the closest thing we get to sex ed.

Students Spread the Word

I wanted to learn more about sex ed for college students, so I attended a conference held by the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in Columbia, SC. At a workshop, I learned that many colleges, like my own, lack the resources and curricula to provide students with accurate sex education. So, it isn’t surprising that college students are dealing with unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

In response, college students on some campuses are taking matters into their own hands and spreading the word about contraception and safer sex. At the conference, I learned about several student projects that raise awareness about sexual health at schools in South Carolina.

At the University of South Carolina’s “Project Condom” event, students made clothes entirely out of condoms. The gorgeous pieces were then displayed in a fashion show, attended by hundreds of university students. The purpose was to get students talking about condoms and engaged in the idea that wearing condoms should be just as normal as wearing clothes. The event was hosted by the university and various student groups; fraternities, GLBTQ groups and Voices for Planned Parenthood, all submitted individual pieces for judging.

At Columbia Community College, students created a handout called “The ABC’s.” Attached to the first page is a condom—that’s Plan A. On page two is Plan B, which is—you guessed it—Plan B, or emergency contraception (EC). The pamphlet explains how EC works to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse and tells students how to get it. Finally, Plan C explains options for students if they do become pregnant. This page lists adoption agencies and health centers that provide prenatal care, if students do decide to continue a pregnancy, and clinics that provide abortion services, if they choose not to continue a pregnancy.

Back at My School

I returned from the conference in South Carolina inspired. I spoke with my resident advisor (RA) about hosting an optional sexual health seminar for the girls on my floor. We’re planning a step-by-step demonstration on how to put on a condom (on a banana!). We’ll also discuss birth control options, how to use them and where to obtain them. My RA said she’d be happy to use some of our floor’s budget, which usually sits untouched all year, to buy condoms. We’ll pass them out at the seminar and keep a supply in our community bathroom.

While I have a personal responsibility to make sure I am protected, it would help a lot if my college provided easy access to sexual health information, options and resources to students. We have a right to information and health care, and it is time for colleges and universities to accept the fact that students are sexual beings (obviously!).

If you’re in or about to enter college, try to find out what resources your school provides when it comes to pregnancy and STD prevention. If your college or university is lacking in this department, don’t let it stay that way! Speak with professors, counselors and resident advisors about improving students’ access to medically accurate sexual health info. A few students, joined together, have the ability to inform, empower and protect hundreds more.

Photo by nightrnb2

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