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RHA votes on condom funds

RHA's decision to continue the program depends on next week's vote.

Spencer Pearson/Graphic Designer

Feb. 16, 2010

A majority of representatives in the internal committee of the Residence Halls Association approved the Sexual Health Advocate Peer Education's funding request of $2,440 for campus condom machines.

The condom machines provide constant access to sexual health resources. The boxes come in three varieties: male condoms, female condoms and oral dams.

RHA representative Tim Banks abstained from a voting on the funding request.

"I personally abstained on the vote," Banks said. "While the condom machines are a great idea, they're being vandalized. They fill them up on Thursday and they're gone by Friday."

Banks said he also sees the resources being wasted by jokesters who leave condoms or lube on other students' doors. The Wolpers residence hall condom machine has been broken multiple times over the past year.

Banks suggested using students I.D. cards as a way to track who is taking condoms from the machines. Students' privacy would be retained because their information would only be accessed in the event of excessive usage.

"They'd see that 'Joe' swiped 80 times in 10 minutes, so we'd know he wouldn't be using them properly," Banks said.

RHA Vice President Lauren Thomas said adding the requirement of swiping student identification cards would increase the cost of operating the machines, which were intended to provide students with sexual resources free of charge.

There is no tracking system in place to see who takes condoms from the machines.

"I would like to hear people's ideas on how to stop it," Thomas said.

Thomas said though vandalism is a problem with the machines, she sees the set-up as the only effective way to distribute condoms to students but keep their right to privacy in tact.

"We want to see them used for protection, and for students to be educated and aware of how to practice safe sex," Thomas said. "But, we are in college, and there are those goof balls who are going to use it no matter how we regulate it."

Banks said students only used condoms for nefarious purposes because they had easy access to them.

"No one would go out to the BCC to get condoms to use improperly," Banks said.

Wooden condom machines were introduced as a cheaper alternative than metal machines. If existing parts on the wooden machines break, new parts can be created in MU facilities.

Thomas said the wooden machines haven't caused problems.

RHA representative Nick Brown voted in favor of the resolution for its full amount and said it was a fair amount.

"I definitely think it will benefit the residents," RHA representative Laura Heck said. "I know that residents can easily get themselves into sticky situations, no pun intended, without these products."

RHA has $8,815.73 left in its budget for this semester.

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Article comments

Feb. 16, 2010 at 2:12 p.m.

HankC: Have the condom machines been a success? Does student health report a decrease in STDs and pregnancies? Are counselor visits down due to decreased stress? Or are sexually active students merely being subsidized in their activities?

Feb. 16, 2010 at 4:37 p.m.

Nathaniel Ballance: The condom dispensers have been a disaster since their inception. There are places on campus where students can obtain the exact same materials for no charge, making the in-hall machines redundant. There are also places on campus where condoms can be purchased. If a college-aged student believes him or herself mature and responsible enough for sex, then the same individual is mature and responsible enough to make the necessary arrangements regarding contraceptives beforehand. Spending over two grand on this is an irresponsible way to of utilizing student money. But spending irresponsibly is not new to RHA.

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