NIU offers free condoms to promote a safer-sex environment

By Faith Healy

Students looking to get intimate and keep it safe can rest easy; Health Enhancement provides condoms for free.

“Our goal was to remove barriers so that students who wanted to use condoms could get them quickly and cheaply,” said senior health educator Steve Lux in an email. “NIU has a vested interest in the welfare of our students and removing any obstacle that might impair a student’s academic progress.”

Condoms are available at various times throughout the week at the Chick Evans Field House and Health Services. Students can take up to 10 per visit.

In addition, vending machines are available around campus which offer condoms for 50 cents apiece. Machines are located in restrooms at the Holmes Student Center, Recreation Services, Neptune Central, Stevenson North, Grant North and South, Douglas and Lincoln.

Health Enhancement also provides community advisers with condoms in bulk. Poonam Dhillon, sophomore psychology major and Lincoln CA, receives a large box of condoms every month from Health Enhancement.

“A lot of students come since I let them know that I have them,” Dhillion said.

The university spends about $8,000 to $10,000, funded entirely by student fees, to provide students with condoms and other safer-sex supplies such as lubricant, female condoms, and other latex barriers, according to the Health Enhancement website.

“Being that [NIU] is such a big state school, [the condom availability program] is a good thing, since all sorts of people go here,” said senior bioscience major Andy Fournier.

Students are encouraged to let Health Enhancement know what other specific brands and other items would help them to regulate their safer sex policies, Lux said.

According to a survey Health Enhancement conducted last spring, about 75 to 85 percent of students who had vaginal sex within 30 days of taking the survey used condoms at least some of the time.

NIU offers this program to help prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy.

“All intimate sexual contact carries with it some amount of risk,” Lux said. “There is no safe sex, just safer sex. We all decide consciously or unconsciously how much risk we wish to take.”