Student Association approves free condom legislation

The Student Association unanimously approved a resolution Monday calling for the University to install and maintain free condom dispensers on campus.

Associate Dean of Students Tim Miller said members of Allied in Pride brought up the issue at the Sept. 14 SA town hall, but the group has yet to provide details of the program to the Center for Student Engagement.

Even with the SA’s pledged support for the program, the resolution has no binding power without University enactment.

Sen. Josh Goldstein, U-CCAS, wrote the Be Safe Act after Allied in Pride members lobbied for the dispensers at the SA Senate’s meeting last week.

“The bill was born from the realization that this campus has a lack of condoms and no place to distribute them,” Goldstein, a senior and chair of the SA Student Life Committee, said.

Goldstein met with his committee and members of Allied in Pride Sunday night to finalize the proposal, which calls for University action to fund and maintain condom dispensers, but does not include a timeline for implementation.

In the initial proposal to the Student Association Sept. 12, Allied in Pride’s Vice President Marika Lee proposed installing at least one dispenser in all residence halls, placed in discrete locations, like bathrooms and laundry rooms.

She estimated the program would cost somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 to start up, including the price of dispensers and installation, but did not provide a specific breakdown of expenses. The condoms would be provided for free from the D.C. Department of Health.

Under the department’s condom distribution program, an unlimited number of condoms are shipped monthly or quarterly, the department’s community outreach coordinator Michael Kharfen, said. The University receives a shipment of 4,000 condoms every three months, Kharfen said. Lee said the only places students can get these condoms are Student Health Services, located at 2141 K St., or the Marvin Center offices of student groups like Allied in Pride and Voices for Choices. Some house proctors also have condoms to distribute to residents.

“They don’t want to go to a really public place anyways,” Lee added. “Having dispensers in each residence hall makes the condoms more readily available.”

The Department of Health provides bowls for its community partners to distribute the condoms, but not the fixed dispensers that Allied in Pride described. Kharfen said these machines are “extremely expensive and tend to have maintenance issues,” although some colleges do use them in residence halls.

Allied in Pride discussed putting bowls in the residence halls, but dispensers remain the safest option, Lee said, because they are less likely to be tampered with.

The Student Association partnered with the Residence Hall Association in 2007 to provide free condoms in residence halls, but the effort fell through due to a lack of participation later that year.

“We hope the program will require less maintenance than the program in 2007,” Lee said. She hopes members of house staff can refill the condom dispensers in their buildings.

Miller, who works closely with housing programs, said he is concerned about adding new responsibilities for house proctors and house scholars, who would not be able to repair broken machines.

“This is a bill to keep students safe and healthy. We don’t see any need for resistance from the University, but administrators have their own concerns,” Lee said.

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