Columbia Univ. Ranks Highest in Sex Education

Trojan ranks schools based on universities' efforts to educate students.

Oct. 9, 2010— -- Students aren't the only ones being graded on college campuses these days. And the grades are about more than academics.

Trojan Condoms released its Sexual Health Report Card this week, which grades universities' efforts to educate students about sexual health. Each campus received a report card, with grades for 12 areas, including condom availability, STI testing location and available lecture programs.

Columbia University, in New York City, came out on top, while the University of Idaho in Moscow received a GPA of 1.17 (scale of zero to four) on its report card, making it the lowest ranked of all.

Columbia Health Policy and Management graduate student Jovan Mitchell told, "We deserve it," citing "a plethora of activities on campus, especially the medical campus, that promote sexual health."

Mitchell, a member of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Action Group on campus, says the school offers numerous clubs that provide learning, activism and skill building opportunities when it comes to public health.

Trojan partnered with Sperling's BestPlaces, an independent research firm, and Rock the Vote. The study, now in its fifth year, found that sexual health is becoming more and more of a political and social issue for young adults.

The top five schools this year included Columbia, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Brown University.

Others didn't fare so well. Chicago State University, Marshall University, DePaul University, Brigham University and the University of Idaho all ranked in the bottom five.

Ivy Leaguers Harvard and Princeton made leaps in sexual health. Harvard jumped from No. 62 to No. 16, Princeton from No. 61 to No. 8.

"Students are really rallying to get their hands on accurate and intelligent material with respect to sexuality," PhD certified sexologist Logan Levkoff told "They're fighting for classes, they're fighting for access to services."

Columbia implemented a new program on its website called "Ask Alice." The feature allows students the opportunity to submit questions anonymously online versus going into the clinic.

"A lot of schools are outsourcing their info to places like the 'Ask Alice' program," Bert Sperling, president of Sperling's BestPlaces, said. "It doesn't matter if you're tapped into your school's website or Columbia's, other schools are using it."

Also important this year were health centers' hours of operation.

Students' health needs "don't run from eight to five," Sperling said. "Being able to walk in anytime in is important."

Bruce Tetreault, group product manager for Trojan Condoms, says Trojan's overall goal is to "ignite conversation around sexual health."

And it's likely that kind of conversation also boosts Trojan's sales.

"We get pictures sent back to us. We get stories sent back to us from different campuses about students actively saying 'Hey, why is our school ranked so low?'" Tetreault said.

For some schools, the sexual health report card is indeed that ignition needed to spark change.

In 2009, students at Arizona State University attempted to drape a 12-foot wide fabric "condom" over the Hayden Library spire after hearing their college rank 119 out of 139 in the 2008 Trojan report card. According to ASU's, the group also created an anonymous sex blog along with pushing to have sexual awareness taught in more courses.

"Knowing that my efforts helped ASU significantly move up in the rankings is a satisfying feeling for sure," ASU business sustainability major and campaign participant Aaron Quihuis said. "Let's face the facts here, students in college have sex, and although ASU can do little to stop kids from having sex, we can at least promote 'safe sex' and methods that come from this concept."

This year ASU jumped from No. 113 to No. 89.

"All in all, the report card and sexual health are extremely vital to the student's safety and health," Quihuis said.

Trojan will also be teaming up with Rock the Vote this year to engage in conversations on a political level during mid-term elections. By including sex health questions in candidate surveys and interacting with sororities, both groups hope to create conversation on campuses.

Project manager Tetreault points to statistics as one of the main reasons why Trojan is targeting sororities versus fraternities. He says women purchase one third of all condom sells. The company aims to educate on the importance of "evening the playing feel" and making both parties equally responsible when it comes to sexual protection. Future outreach will target fraternities and different organizations across college campuses.

"Hopefully everybody's grades get higher," Tetreault said. "If we can get all those GPA's up it's better for everybody, and we can start reducing those scary statistics."

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