Free condoms available to students

By Joelle McGinnis

Free condoms will be provided to students by NIU’s Health Enhancement Services for the rest of the spring semester.

Steve Lux, health educator, said condoms will no longer be sold by the University Health Service pharmacy. Instead, all condom distribution will be done through the Health Enhancement Services, the health promotion and disease prevention program of the health center, he said.

Now, in addition to receiving condoms at educational presentations and workshops, students will be able to pick up free condoms from bowls located in the lobby of the Health Enhancement Services and in the gynecology clinic.

Lux said the Health Enhancement Services had not advertised the changes when it began distributing condoms in this manner on March 8. “The initial response (during the four days before spring break began) was encouraging in the numbers of condoms taken,” he said.

Lux said 532 condoms were distributed—about 133 condoms each day. If the NIU continues distributing condoms at this rate, it would total more than 21,000 condoms on a yearly basis, he said.

Health Center Director Dr. Rosemary Lane said she has heard of objections about the free distribution condoms in the community, and a local physician is opposed to the decision.

Lux said in response to negative reactions NIU has “to realize it is doing the right thing and not respond to a minority opinion.”

Lane said health center officials are not sure how long the free distribution of condoms will last. “We have to wait to see how many condoms are distributed. Right now, we have enough, but our finances are not totally unlimited,” she said.

Lux said, “We are not worried about the cost now because condoms are so cheap.” But a study will be conducted to try and minimize misuse and to determine whether students taking condoms are wasting unused condoms or giving them to friends, he said.

Lux said the distribution of condoms free of charge “has not been tried at this university before.” The idea to begin such a program at NIU originated sometime around late January or early February, he said.

“I don’t think free distribution is the final answer. We are working on installing vending machines to sell condoms and a few other ideas,” Lux said.