Boston U. dorm vending machines sell condoms

Boston University -- Boston University students now have the choice between sweet, salty and lubricated when they hit the vending machines for a late night fix.

Students can purchase Trojan Elexa condoms alongside Skittles and Sun Chips in the 11 large dormitories and one in South Campus, Director of Residence Life and Assistant Dean of Students David Zamojski said.

"It's kind of a vending transaction like any of the other vending transaction," he said. "The vending areas are in a sense traffic areas, but the transaction has a degree of privacy."

For $2.50 in cash or convenience points, a student will receive two condoms, packaged in a small white box, Zamojski said.

Students will be able to access condoms throughout the academic year, but not during the summer, when BU hosts conferences for younger students, Zamojski said.

The condom initiative came after a year of discussion between the Office of Residence Life, Student Union and Residence Hall Associations, Zamojski said. ORL began stocking the condoms during the last week of August.

Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University had programs to distribute free condoms before BU, according to the proposal submitted by the Union in the spring.

Union Vice President Paula Griffin said the Union Residence Life Committee discussed their concern for student health and programs at other colleges and universities.

"The overall statistics for STDs is mind-blowing," Griffin said. "I think the statistic is one half of women in their 20s contract [human papilloma virus], which is kind of crazy seeing how preventable it is."

The sensitivity surrounding the issue prevented the university from advertising the condoms, Griffin said.

"It's something I think BU didn't want to have a lot of fanfare about, because there might be some students who don't like that stance, or parents who don't want to be hearing about it," she said. "But Student Union definitely isn't done with the project. We're working towards providing free condoms for students, too."

Student Health Services provides free condoms in its waiting room at 881 Commonwealth Avenue. The department also offers "condom coupons," which allow students to buy 20 condoms for $5.

"I personally don't agree that students should be asked to be abstinent," Health Services Director David McBride said in an e-mail. "Sexual expression is an individual decision. I hope that students choose to do so in a responsible way."

College of Arts and Sciences freshman Sarah Armenia said she will not buy the condoms from the vending machines.

"It's a little abrupt," she said. "There are a lot of students who aren't having sex, and they may not want to see that."

Other students said they think safe sex is too important for condom availability to be scarce.

"We're not a super religiously fanatic school. It shouldn't be a problem," College of Arts and Sciences senior Becca Boxhorn said. "A condom is a condom. You need to keep it available."

Some students questioned whether $2.50 is too steep a price for two condoms, considering a pack of three condoms costs $3.79 at a local 7-Eleven.

"When you're in the mood, it totally kills it when you have to walk to 7-Eleven," College of Communication sophomore Patrick Wemmer said. "But at those prices, I'll go to 7-Eleven."

College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Kai Barner said he thinks the price for the vending machine condoms is reasonable in "emergency" situations.

"You're paying for convenience," he said.

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