Back-to-school list includes condoms

By Mark Gates

Remember when fall meant going to the store with mom to buy a jumbo box of crayons or that new Bullwinkle lunchbox?

These days NIU students have condoms on their back-to-school lists, and in most cases, mom doesn’t buy them.

The University Health Service distributed 30,000 condoms last year through the use of vending machines and by giving free condoms to students.

The department still plans to distribute free condoms in the health center waiting room. The condoms will be available when a shipment arrives in 10-15 days, said Steve Lux, the department’s health educator.

Condom machines were installed during NIU’s 1988 spring break. Sales from the vending machines exceeded the expectations of the department, said Lux.

The university made a profit of approximately $200 from the sale of 1,435 condoms.

There are 28 condom machines on campus. The condoms, supplied by National Sanitary Lab, sell for 50 cents apiece. The “Protex” condoms are latex and contain a spermicide.

Machines are located in restrooms in the Holmes Student Center, the health center, Founders Memorial Library, Office of Campus Recreation and all residence halls’ main lobbies.

Students on campus seem to think the installation of the condom machines was a good idea.

“There’s no way you’re going to be able to stop the kids on campus from having sex. It’s a lot safer to have protection than to leave them with no choice,” one female student said.

A male student thought buying condoms on campus is more convenient than buying them in a store. “It’s an easier way for students to get a hold of them. It promotes safe sex.”

He thought, however, that the 50-cent price of vending machine condoms is too high. “A quarter would be more reasonable.”