Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and with love in the air, residential halls are stocking up on contraceptive needs to have a safe holiday.
Throughout campus, resident assistant (RA) offices provide bowls and jars of condoms for free. Designated RAs are tasked with visiting the Decker Student Health Services Center to pick up condoms and bring them back to these offices. Bri Johnson, an RA for Johnson Hall and a senior majoring in human development, said she thinks putting out free condoms for students is an important resource in the building.
“I feel like it’s definitely something that’s needed,” Johnson said. “I feel like it’s much less awkward coming down to the RA office to get [condoms] rather than going to [Decker Student Health Services Center] yourself to get it or even going to a pharmacy or something to pick it up. I feel like it’s much more convenient and the fact that it’s in the building and you’re being provided protection by people who are supposed to look out for you, I feel like that definitely makes things less awkward.”
However, some find it embarrassing to have to interact with an RA, according to a student who wished to remain anonymous.
“They’re definitely more convenient,” the student said. “It is a little awkward when you see an RA, but they are very convenient.”
The RA offices are not the only place to get condoms on campus. In the University Bookstore, Trojan brand condoms are available in packs of three for $3.29. Jenna McMullin, a bookstore employee and a junior majoring in mathematics, said she sees students buy them frequently.
“I work once to twice a week,” McMullin said. “I’d say once every shift, at least, someone will come in and buy [condoms].”
Binghamton University offers other ways for students to get contraceptives and protection on campus. Decker Student Health Services Center offers oral contraception, emergency contraception, diaphragms and Depo-Provera, a hormonal birth control shot. In the basement of Decker Student Health Services Center, the Real Education About College Health (REACH) office offers free safe-sex products such as condoms, dental dams and lubricants. REACH is a part of the Health Promotion and Prevention Services (HPPS) department which also gives out safe-sex products on the third floor of Old O’Connor Hall.
In addition to offering safe-sex supplies on campus, REACH has a system where students can order a “Safer Sex Kit” online. The process requires less interaction than heading to a specific office to pick up contraceptives.
According to another anonymous student, although students may not think to use campus resources for contraceptives, the kit can be a good alternative to other avenues.
“I’ve seen [the kit] advertised in the [University] Union,” the student said. “I think [the ‘Safer Sex Kit’] could be pretty useful. I feel like most students, when they think about [contraceptives], they don’t think to reach out to people.”
Using a Google Form, students can customize their kit to include their choice of 10 male condoms, 10 female condoms, 10 dental dams or 10 packets of water-based lubricant. The kit will then be sent to a student’s campus mailbox. If they live off campus, they must pick it up in the REACH office. Although the program has only been around for a few years, Kimberly Peabody, director of HPPS, said it is growing in popularity.
“The ‘Safer Sex Kits’ have been offered since spring of 2018,” Peabody said. “Since its inception, we have had an increase in orders each semester.”
Aaron Jed, a junior majoring in mathematics, said he appreciates that BU offers a variety of contraception options.
“Anecdotally speaking, I think I’ve had no issue getting access to contraceptives on campus,” Jed said. “I think the school actually does a relatively good job of promoting the use of contraceptives on campus.”
Still, when asked about the quality of the contraceptives offered, Jed was critical.
“Different story,” Jed said. “I outsource, I definitely outsource.”