Condom availability was one of the factors Sperling and his team looked at when ranking the sexual health of schools. At Cal Poly, students can take up to five free condoms.
The sexual health of this campus is not rated on a new list comparing universities across the country, but the researcher in charge of it took a look at Cal Poly’s sexual health programs and found areas to improve on.
Cal Poly didn’t make the list of the 140 American schools Trojan Brand Condoms and America’s BestPlaces ranked according to sexual health because the graded schools were chosen on size and NCAA Division status, according to Bjorn Trowery, public relations representative for Trojan Brand Condoms.
Trojan has released an annual Sexual Health Report Card for the last eight years. Schools are graded across 11 categories, including health center hours of operation, contraceptive and condom availability, website usability and sexual health education programs and organizations.
Although Cal Poly wasn’t ranked, Bert Sperling, head researcher of the project, looked at how it would stack up.
“One of the most important categories is what’s available on the Web for students,” Sperling said.
He explained these days, if students are looking for information on sexual health and services, they are more likely to use their computer or phone instead of making an appointment with the health center.
Cal Poly’s website, he said, “was kind of lacking in that regard. Our ideal would be to have a section of the website with all the different information people need for sexual health issues. Things like STI and HIV tests—how much? Where do you get it done? How long does it take? Is it confidential?”
The Cal Poly website is also missing resources about contraception. The website has material about Plan B but not other types of contraceptive.
The Health Center’s hours can also negatively affect Cal Poly’s sexual health. Students can come in from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Trowery said these times aren’t ideal for those who have class or extracurricular activities during the day.
Comparatively, Princeton University, which was ranked first on the list, has 24-hour care, seven days a week.
Cal Poly does well, however, with its peer groups and health programs, Sperling said.
Educational Resources On Sexuality (EROS) offers private consultations with students and gives presentations on birth control and contraception, STIs, pap smears and healthy relationships.
“We’re that safe place where people can come and talk about sex,” EROS student leader and business administration junior Lindsay Bolla said. “Because no one really wants to discuss it openly.”
This quarter, EROS held Freaky Fall, a Halloween event with quizzes, condoms and candy. They gave more than 10 in-class presentations on safe sex.
Bolla said the team is looking to expand into greek life and collaborate with Safer, the Cal Poly group dedicated to reducing sexual assault.
In February, EROS is holding Love Carefully.
“We’re going to have booths, and we’ll talk to the people who walk by,” Bolla said. “It will mostly be about birth control, condoms and STIs.”
These events would earn Cal Poly extra credit in its ranking, Sperling said.
Counseling Services’ sexual assault support would also improve Cal Poly’s score.
Counseling Services has an active outreach program for sexual assault, works closely with Safer to help victims and offers a confidential place for students to receive therapy, Director Dr. Geneva Reynaga-Akibo said.
In addition, the department recently formed a response team of six therapists who consider sexual assault their area of expertise. But Reynaga-Akibo said there is room for improvement, specifically online.
“We need student-friendly information on the website,” she said. “(I want to work on) not only the messages, because I don’t love all the wording, but expanding the resources available as well.”
Bolla felt EROS’ page could improve, as well.
“Definitely, it could be improved,” Bolla said. “We’re putting more of our information on there, so that people can go on-line and look things up instead of having to come here.”
Bolla said they’re currently working with their IT team on expanding the website.
One of the main goals of the Sexual Health Report Card is to spark a discussion about how sexual health resources could be enhanced, said Mark Gromosaik, group product manager at Trojan Brand Condoms.
“It’s about inspiring action to ensure students have the accurate information they need to make responsible decisions,” he said. “Now, in its eighth year, we continue to see great strides made on campuses nationwide, with students and faculty using the Sexual Health Report Card as a tool to shed light on the sexual health resources available to spark change on campus.”
With the number of schools being surveyed increasing, maybe next year Cal Poly will make the grade.
Correction: This article originally stated that Love Carefully is in spring. It is actually in February to coordinate with Valentine’s Day, and we have updated this post to reflect that information.