St. Thomas University, a school in Fredericton received media coverage this summer when Residence Life told the student union that condoms could not be included in Welcome Week kits. The university argued that condoms were available elsewhere on campus (for example, from residence assistants) and thus didn’t need to be included in Welcome Week kits. The counter argument? Students don’t exactly want to introduce themselves to people for the first time and then proceed ask for a condom. The university decided to create a student health committee to discuss the topic and come to a conclusion. (It included student representation, which was great).
The final decision: condoms really aren’t that bad and should be included after all, along with sexual health education materials and a broader campus focus on sexual health education:
“The committee supports the proposal to include a sample condom, accompanied by appropriate sexual health education materials, in the package for incoming first year students. The committee further recommends that there be an enhanced focus on providing sexual health education information to all students.” (See the full Macleans’ article here.)
Despite the popular, yet clearly irrational argument that giving people condoms leads to them dropping everything and having sex (the brilliant Elizabeth Pisani quipped in her TED Talk in response: “I carry condoms all the time, and I never get laid”) what condoms really do is reduce the number of students faced with the choice between abortion, adoption and holding off on their education (or abandoning it altogether) to raise a child and it also reduces the number of students with sexually transmitted infections which leads to happier, healthier sexual and reproductive systems so that when said students do want to have children, they don’t have to seek expensive and time consuming infertility treatment.
Not all post-secondary campuses give out condoms or sexual health education as part of welcome week events, nor do they have sexual health education and services available on all campuses. Some do (such as Orientation Volunteers at the University of Guelph, whose shirts say ‘consent is sexy’); however, these types of sexual health messaging is still lacking in so many places.
As such, legitimate congratulations, St. Thomas, for choosing to be proactive when it comes to sexual health education. Even though it boggles my mind that it is even a discussion, clearly it still is. Even having the discussion is far and above those institutions with their heads in the sand when it comes to all things sexual health.
Congrats, St. Thomas!