According to new data released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rates of sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis increased dramatically in 2014, specifically in college-aged populations. But at least some campuses are finding creative ways to improve sexual health among young people.
That’s one of the major takeaways from the condom company Trojan, which just released its annual “Sexual Health Report Card” — a list ranking U.S. colleges by their access to sexual health resources.
“We saw a lot of changes [over the past year] that were all positive, all raising awareness across campuses,” said Bert Sperling, lead researcher of the Trojan study — and man behind viral city-ranking lists. “There are programs that we couldn’t have even imagined existing on campuses when we began this survey.”
Brigham Young University — Utah’s private school run by the Mormon church — took last place. Oregon State University — whose mascot is a beaver — took first, for the second year in the row. Researchers said they surveyed school health staff and looked at their accompanying websites to get a grasp of each university’s programs.
University of Georgia — #3 (#15 in 2014)
UGA’s new Condom Express program “discreetly” mails boxes of condoms and lube to any student living in campus housing for free. Plus, the student health website has almost every answer to common sexual health questions — and a whole section dedicated to the definition of “consent,” with student input and examples. The college also has a bystander intervention program called “WatchDawg,” where members promise to “Look out for fellow friends and dawgs” on campus.
University of Oregon — #6 (#17 in 2014)
The UO health center created a oddly addictive “Sex Positive” app, where students — or anyone, for that matter — can spin a virtual wheel to find answers to important sexual health questions that real students are asking. It’s been so successful that other schools have been licensing it and including their own local resources. It even has its own ad:
Michigan State University — #11 (#41 in 2014) At MSU, a student-led theater troupe called “In Your Face” visits residence halls to perform skits with a sex-ed twist. And the college has another popular condom delivery service, Condom Connection, that has grown in popularity over the recent years. Like UGA, the service lets students access free condoms in their residence halls instead of having to make a potentially embarrassing run to the health center or convenience store.
Indiana University-Bloomington — #12 (#36 in 2014)
IU Bloomington has the luck of being partnered with the Kinsey Institute, a sex research institute with the mission “to advance sexual health and knowledge worldwide.” Started by IU professor and acclaimed sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, the institute hosts events and lectures for students on all facets of sex education, understanding, and research. Plus, the institute runs the Kinsey Confidential, a blog addressing all sorts of weird and important questions on sex — which was popular enough to inspire a weekly podcast.
Cornell University — #16 (#58 in 2014)
Over the summer, the Ivy League school updated its sexual harassment guidelines to include New York’s new “Enough Is Enough” law, which includes distributing a student bill of rights to all students and using an “affirmative consent” standard. The university has also created a Council on Sexual Violence Prevention, which keeps sexual assault awareness in check on campus and hosts a slew of informative lectures, events and job opportunities for students.