By Adam Frankel
Last fall, I introduced a policy to the Student Association’s diversity affairs commission for the installation of permanent condom dispensers in all student residence halls. If installed, the readily-available condoms would dramatically increase prevention of sexually transmitted infections amongst students, including the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Dispensers would serve as a constant reminder of the necessary precautions in practicing safe sex, and they would also include information on where to receive routine testing. They would be discreetly placed in areas of the building where students would be able to access them without worrying about being bothered by others. Costs would be very low, as unlimited supplies of condoms are regularly distributed to similar programs by the D.C. Department of Health. The University would only need to fund the purchase and installation of dispensers. This minimal commitment will go far beyond a small investment: It is guaranteed to increase student health and community awareness.
The epidemic is often falsely depicted as a foreign issue only affecting promiscuous gay men or poor women in underdeveloped nations. This is blatantly false – it is a matter affecting the health of our student body and our city. The stark reality lies in the soaring local rates of infection, as well as in recent studies highlighting heterosexual women as the fastest growing demographic of HIV infections in the United States. We have no choice but to take a stand.
The following organizations have already joined in my call for action: Allied in Pride, Caribbean Students Association, Chinese American Students Association, Diversity Affairs Commission, the Graduate School of Public Health and Health Services Department of Prevention and Community Health, GW’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, GW Students for Free Trade, the Organization of Latino American Students, the Racially and Ethnically Mixed Students Association, the Student Global AIDS Campaign, the Multicultural Student Services Center and Voices for Choices.
Now, it is your turn to take a stand. Speak out and demand that the University embraces our efforts by supporting and implementing the condom dispenser initiative.
-The writer is a sophomore and the Diversity Affairs Chair of Allied in Pride.