Thorpe’s free condom program begins in freshman dorms

Student Association President Lamar Thorpe announced Tuesday that free condoms will be available in freshman residence halls starting Thursday.

The initiative will put condoms in a bowl near security checkpoints at freshman residence halls. The program will run this semester and could expand to include more halls in the future, said Thorpe, a senior.

During his campaign for SA president, Thorpe focused on improving sexual health on campus, making his “Condoms in the Residence Halls” initiative one of the main pillars of his campaign.

Earlier this month, Thorpe announced that free HIV testing will be available to students at Student Health. The test is free, but students will still have to pay an office fee.

A report released this month by Trojan Condoms ranked GW sixteenth in the nation for best sexual health.

According to the “report card,” GW scored an overall 2.7 on a 4.0 scale, receiving “A’s” for sexual health information on the University Web site, contraception and advice columns, a “B” in lecture and outreach programs, “C’s” for HIV/ Sexually Transmitted Infection testing and sexual assault services and an “F” for condom availability.

The study was conducted between February and May 2006 by Sperling’s Best Places for Trojan Condoms and was based solely on information found on the Web sites of 100 major universities, said Bert Sperling, president of Sperling’s Best Places.

“The goal was to get a window into a range of universities; we wanted to take some of the largest universities in the United States and ones that were geographically distributed,” Sperling wrote in an e-mail.

“We want people to see how their university compares with others in this very important area of health,” he said. “The first step towards young people taking care of themselves is to have answers to their questions.”

The University’s sexual health services can still improve and the report card results in some areas serve as a reminder, Thorpe said.

“It is pretty well known where we currently lack and don’t lack,” Thorpe said. “We are not No. 1, so we still have some work to do.”

The SA is working on expanding sexually transmitted infection testing and sexual assault services, both of which received average markings by Trojan, Thorpe said.

To improve sexual assault services, Thorpe plans to bring the sexual assault awareness group, One and Four, to campus. Thorpe said he is not entirely displeased with sexual assault services, however.

“In terms of rape protection programs, I don’t think we are that far off,” Thorpe said.

American University announced that it will begin selling condoms to students for 50 cents in each of AU’s dorms this week as part of an effort to improve sexual health on the AU campus, according to the school’s student newspaper, The Eagle.

Although the condoms will not be free, AU Student Government President Ashley Mushnick said she has received positive feedback from students and encourages student leaders at other universities to take an active but cautious approach to addressing sexual health on their campuses, too.

“Make the message clear that you aren’t encouraging promiscuity when you talk about protection,” Mushnick wrote in an e-mail. “You are encouraging responsibility and informed choices about your sexual health.”

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