K-State loses ranking in sexual education report

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HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and babies can all be the distressing consequences of unprotected sex. Students have options when dealing with sexual issues, many of which are provided at Lafene Health Center. Trojan Condoms recently sponsored a study determining the state of sexual education at health centers on college campuses across the nation. K-State ranked No. 61 out of 141 schools.

Bert Sperling, president of the research firm Sperling’s Best Places, conducted the study for Trojan along with a team of five employees.

“First of all, it’s important to bear in mind when we talk about sexual health we are not measuring the degree of sexual health, we are measuring the information and the degree to which it is provided,” Sperling said.

The firm sent two-page questionnaires to college health centers with 13 categories, including on-site HIV testing, hours of operation and condom availability to students. Sperling said researchers also looked at websites when trying to determine how effective a campus was at promoting sexual health.

Sperling’s Best Places has been conducting the study for six years, and Sperling said he has seen improvements across many universities.

“Basically, what is happening is we are seeing these schools getting closer together,” Sperling said. “When we started this study six years ago, the schools were farther apart; some were really good, some were really bad, but now they are coming toward the middle, which we hope is partly a result of our information.”

Last year, K-State was ranked No. 28 in the nation in sexual health education, but this year dropped to No. 61. The decline was evaluated on a 100-point ranking scale, in which K-State dropped four points. This brought the university to a total of 70 points. Columbia University is the highest ranking school, with a score of 86, and DePaul University is one of the lowest, with a score of 10 points.

Overall, Sperling said K-State was doing a good job in disseminating sexual information.

“I think it’s a very good program you have there, it’s all A’s, B’s and C’s,” Sperling said. “You have extra credit for a peer education group, which is very cool.”

Mary Hunt, vice president of Sexual Health Awareness Peer Educators and senior in family studies, said the organization gives presentations on sexual health to different groups on campus.

“We say we are not promoting or discouraging sex, but giving the information,” Hunt said. “I like making people uncomfortable. I like bringing up hard topics and making people become more comfortable with things that are difficult to talk about.”

Julie Gibbs, SHAPE adviser and director of health promotion and nutrition counseling at Lafene Health Center, said SHAPE presents to 15 to 20 groups each semester and reaches about 900 students.

Sperling said K-State lost four points this year because the university does not meet the category of having anonymous advice available for students.

“For instance, the perfect thing we are looking for is like a sexual health column running in the paper, or maybe anonymous questions students can ask the center,” Sperling said. “The public information can help everybody.” 

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