Nov 7, 2013 by Christine Rousselle
For the past eight years, condom manufacturer Trojan Brand Condoms has released a “report card” that claims to rank various colleges and universities by their level of sexual health. Schools are ranked according to a variety of factors, including hours of operation of the student health center, student clubs that discuss sexual health, STD/HIV testing, and usability of the website. Somewhat ironically, the actual health of the student body is never taken into accord in the ranking system.
Out of the 140 schools ranked on the list, the first school affiliated with a religion, Georgetown, appears at 96th. Three schools in the bottom ten are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church (St. John’s University in New York, Seton Hall University, and Providence College, my alma mater) and the lowest ranked school, Brigham Young University, is affiliated with the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).
While the report card purports to define the sexual health of the student body, schools scored lower if they did not distribute free or low-cost condoms or other forms of contraception to its student body. This has no effect on the actual sexual health of their students, as students are able to acquire contraceptives on their own. Many Catholic schools choose not to distribute these items to their students, as they violate Church teachings on contraception, but students are free to acquire them on their own off-campus.
Additionally, students at Brigham Young University are required to sign an honor code saying they will not engage in (among other things) premarital sex. BYU famously suspended star basketball player Brandon Davies for violating this section of the code in 2011. Given this information, it certainly is head-scratching how a school composed of students who are literally required to abstain from premarital sexual activity could be labeled as being one of the least sexually healthy schools in the country.
Other low-ranking schools on the list are primarily commuter schools, meaning that less than 20 percent of its student body resides in campus housing. If a student is not living on campus, it certainly makes sense that they would not rely on the school for contraceptive needs or make frequent use of a university health center. This is an unfair assessment of their student body as well.
It goes without saying that this list could be a backhanded attempt by Trojan to force religious schools to purchase and distribute their product. Students at lower-ranking schools are unfairly smeared by this list as being a bunch of disease-ridden freaks. This list does not take into account the actual sexual health of the students at the ranked schools, but rather combines a bunch of arbitrary factors that have little to no effect on a student’s health. A student is no more or less sexually healthy if a health center is open until 6:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. Under the current system, a school with extremely high rates of STD infections yet distributes contraception and tests for STDs would be ranked higher than a school that has zero infected students—but does not have free contraception available. That is insane. This list is dishonest reporting at best, and libel at worst.