Putting out

By Christopher Norman

From Health Services to the residence halls, students have many places to find condoms.

NIU has a budget of $15,000 per year for all types of safer-sex aids. Health Enhancement makes nearly 20 types of contraception available to students through Health Enhancement’s Condom Availability Program. These include male and female condoms, other latex barriers and lubricants. They are paid for in part by student fees.

Nearly 150,000 condoms are made available through the program every year.

Health educator Steve Lux said the goal of the program is to reduce the barriers between students and condoms.

He asks students to take only 10 condoms per visit, but they are free to visit as many times as they would like during a semester.

“People may get the idea we have an unlimited supply; it’s not unlimited,” Lux said.

Lux also said he would like to reduce the amount of abuse to the program.

“I believe we have one of the more aggressive condom availability programs in the country,” Lux said.

Condom vending machines

Health Enhancement has had a contract with National Safety Limited since 1989 for condom vending options. In the 1980s, the university wanted to reduce the number of incidents of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy on campus. When the NSL first installed the vending machines, it vended about 600 to 1,200 condoms a month. As of 2004, it only vends about 135 a month.

The vended condoms cost 50 cents each. The university receives 15 cents from every sale. That money is put back into the Condom Availability Program. The machines vend Slimmer fit condoms.

“I don’t think the condoms should be 50 cents,” said freshman undecided major Thomas Kazecki. “I don’t think too many people trust the sheer thin condoms in the machines. I would rather use free condoms.”

Lux said the vending machines are necessary to ensure students who did not seek out condoms in advance will still have easy access to protection.

The role of community advisers

Community advisers, organizations on campus and Greek societies also take part in Health Enhancement’s Condom Availability Program.

CAs are not required to put out condoms in the residence halls, but many believe it is a necessary service. CAs can sign out bags of bulk condoms from the Community Assistance Resource Center in Lincoln Residence Hall and make them available to their floors.

Jennifer Yaeger, an adult and higher education major and CA in Neptune East, has a condom-mint program on her floor. In order to ensure the privacy of students on the floor, she places both condoms and candy in a bowl so no one will know exactly what someone else is taking.

“Flavored ones tend to bring more humor than anything,” Yaeger said. “The new Pleasure Plus condoms have also raised a few eyebrows.”