Health service pushes for condom dispensers

By Tammy Sholer

NIU’s Health Enhancement Services has proposed putting condoms in vending machines to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Band-Aids, toothbrushes and aspirin are several items which also might be placed in the vending machines, said Steve Lux, health enhancement services acting coordinator.

Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs, said “Students need to be more aware of STDs.” They also have to be aware of ways to prevent the diseases, he said.

Dalton said the surgeon general’s number one recommendation to prevent receiving an STD is abstinence, and the number two recommendation is using a condom.

Selling condoms in machines is not to promote a method of birth control but to promote the prevention of diseases such as AIDs or chlamydia, Lux said.

“If it (a condom) saves one life it is worth it to me,” Michelle Emmett, university programming and activities director, said.

Student Association President Jim Fischer said he supports the idea behind the vending machies. “I think we (NIU) should do anything to make condoms more available to students.”

The health enhancement service encourages people not to be embarrassed to buy condoms, Lux said. With the additional self-care items in the machine, passers-by will not know which item an individual is purchasing, he said.

Fischer said, “It’s silly to be embarrassed to buy them (condoms). A problem is changing people’s attitudes toward purchasing condoms because they are a necessity.”

Emmett said, “If students are mature enough to have a sexual relationship they should be mature enough to take the responsibility for it.”

The University Health Service also sells condoms, Lux said. If the proposal passes, condoms also will be sold at the health enhancement’s Wellness Resource Center, located on the main floor in the Holmes Student Center, he said.

“Vending machines are being installed in campuses all over the country.” Emmett said. “It (a condom) is important because it saves lives.”

Lux said he contacted many schools in the Midwest and a few have chosen to install the machines. He said Northwestern University has vending machines containing only condoms and those seem to be succesful.

Dana Wiseman, in charge of the men’s health clinic at Northwestern University, said the institution installed the condom vending machines about five months ago and he said he has not heard of any problems.

“If condoms are put in vending machines, they should be spermicidal, reservoir and lubricated because those are the type that prevent disease and pregnancies,” he said.

Students deserve to get those three features if they are paying 50 cents for a condom, Wiseman said. Fifty cents is a high price but students are paying for the convenience of the machines, he said.

If Dalton approves the proposal, health wellness/self-care vending machines might be in several campus buildings this summer, Lux said.

Installation and the cost of upkeeping the machines is unknown, Lux said. It also is premature to state a price for the items, he said.

The price depends on whether the vending machines are purchased or rented, Lux said. Purchasing a machine could run between $250 to $1,100, and leasing would be less, he said.

Funding the machines would come from the health service budget, Lux said.

He said a small committee within the health services has been formed to determine the best way to purchase and distribute the machines.

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease on campus because in most cases an individual does not know he has the disease, Lux said.