Condom machine is exected soon

By Susie Snyder

NIU students might find condom vending machines in about 30 restrooms across campus when they return from semester break in January.

NIU Health Educator Steve Lux said he hopes to have condom vending machines installed in various campus restrooms by the beginning of next semester.

Lux said that a list of specific requirements will be sent next week to vending companies so the companies can bid on a vending contract with NIU. He said the companies will respond with bids by Dec. 16.

Jon Dalton, NIU vice president for student affairs, said the list of “‘specs’ will develop what it is we want and what the companies need to provide.”

Donald Widick, NIU director of materials management, said he and the NIU Purchasing Department helped draw up the bid requirements for the vendors. He said the requirements are 16 pages of specific qualifications for the vending machines and the vending product which vendors will need to know in order to make bids.

These qualifications will be sent to about 25 different vendors throughout northern Illinois, Widick said.

Lux said the list of specifics for the condoms themselves include good quality and whether the product is coated with the spermicide Nonoxynol-9. He said the packaging of the condoms and the machines cannot be offensive, degrading or titillating.

“We don’t want the same kind of machines that are found in bars,” Lux said.

Lux also said that NIU will look for a company which is reputable, services its machines when necessary and will provide the university with information about the number of condoms sold per machine.

“All the university is doing is giving a company permission to install its machines on our property,” Lux said. He said the company will be responsible to service and restock the machines.

Widick said that interested companies will return their bids to the purchasing department. He said the department will assess the companies and award the contract to the company which best meets with NIU’s list of specifics.

NIU first approached Tri-R Vending for the condom machine contract because the company provides most of NIU’s vending services, Lux said. However, he said Tri-R declined because the company only provides food, beverages and snacks.

Dalton said the machines are NIU’s response to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. He said the decision to install the machines was based on concerns for the health of NIU students.

Lux said he would like to see student organizations get invloved in condom distribution on campus. He said the organizations could purchase condoms in bulk and find different ways to distribute them.

Lux also said the machines will make condoms more easily accessible to students. He said that although the university already offers free condoms to students in the University Health Service, some students will not take advantage of the opportunity because they are too embarrassed that people will see them taking the condoms.