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Sex Stories

By Kait Scalisi, MPH

It’s that time of year again—pumpkin spice, homecoming, and the release of Trojan’s Sexual Health Report Card. The annual ranking of campus sexual health resources has become a fall tradition, and schools are stepping up their game in pursuit of the coveted No. 1 spot.

The report card provides valuable feedback about what schools do well, identifies where they could do better, and spurs improvement through competition. According to lead researcher Bert Sperling,

“The outside focus and attention placed on these programs has prompted schools to develop stronger sexual health initiatives and increase students’ access to resources.”

The report card ranks sexual health resources and information available to students on 140 campuses. Colleges are ranked on 11 categories including STI testing on-site, sexual violence prevention and response resources, and programming for sexual health education. To obtain this information, researchers both interview health center representatives and conduct their own research on the centers and their services.

Since the rankings began, schools have made vast improvements to the resources and information available to students. This year, the superstar is Oregon State University which went from No. 26 to No. 1. This incredible jump is due to factors like increasing condom availability, extending student health center hours of operations, and improving the usability and quality of their sexual health Web site. All of these factors reduce barriers to accessing safer sex materials and sexual health care. Other schools that saw large jumps in the rankings include the University of Oregon, recognized for its development of the SexPositive app, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Maryland. Coming in last, for the third year in a row, is Brigham Young University.

One limitation of the report card is that it only draws from schools in conferences within the Bowl Championships Series. That being said, the students on these campuses include individuals from all 50 states. Additionally, the report card only looks at resources available via student health centers, which may or may not be the main provider of sexual health services and information at a given school.

Despite such limitations, the Trojan report card provides valuable information about the types of resources and information available to students on campuses throughout the country, and it serves as a best-practices guide of sorts for other campuses, regardless of whether they are ranked. This year’s shakeup in the rankings highlights the increasing importance of sexual health issues to colleges and universities, and shows that lower-ranking schools can rise to the top by taking steps to improve.

Other Sexual Health News This Week

‘Swingers’ Multiple Drug Use Heightens Risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Medical Press)

Transgender Federal Employee Wins Historic Discrimination Case (Washington Post)

Three States Wage Fight to Keep Same-Sex Marriage Bans (The Kansas City Star)

Planned Parenthood Thinks It Found a Way to Stop Middle Schoolers from Having Sex (Time)

Important Dates

The following conference proposals are due in October and November.

International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) 2015 Meeting, October 30.

CatalystCon East, November 4.

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) 2015 Conference, November 5.

Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium, November 7.