For some, college offers a chance to escape the prison wardens at home. It's an opportunity for students to explore and experiment with things that may not meet the approval of mom and dad – such as sex.
At the Oglethorpe University Student Health Center, junior work-study student Shanelle Ebanks sees the evidence firsthand. One of her duties this past spring was to help with National Condom Week, conveniently positioned around Valentine's Day. The American Social Health Association sponsors National Condom Week to remind people of the importance of correctly using condoms when they have sex. She recounts the Feb. 11, 2008, event:
Oglethorpe observed this week by making condoms abundantly available and by distributing several different quizzes to test people's knowledge about condoms and safe sex. At first some questions seemed silly, but then I stopped to think that the mere fact they were on the quiz meant someone thought them up. I couldn't believe someone would ever really consider using Saran Wrap and a rubber band as a condom substitute! That question was mind-boggling and downright scary.
The Student Health Center begins administering free HIV/AIDS tests to any students on campus. This turns out to be the most successful testing day ever on our campus. We unfortunately run out of tests because the demand is so high.
After cleaning up our mess of condoms and quizzes, I begin to wonder about other ways to educate students. I was fortunate enough to have had basic health and safe-sex classes coupled with volunteering in a hospital prior to the Student Health Center. My experience with the issue made me wonder what everyone else knew about STDs, STIs, safe sex and related information.
I finally get back to my dorm room, and I start researching. Can I just say, there's so much stuff they leave out of those health classes, and so many things most people just don't know? Like having one STD puts you at higher risk for having others. Some STDs don't have symptoms and only express themselves in a select population, sometimes weeks after the disease was actually transmitted.
After researching all afternoon, I think about diving into sexual education even more and seeing if it would be possible for me to begin teaching classes. The good news is that I've been blessed with the opportunity to have a program on campus this fall, sharing what I've learned about safe-sex practices. I hope to get off-campus officials to speak to students about sex. My goal is to get it all out in the open: STDs, birth control, condoms, sex vs. rape, etc. It makes absolutely no sense not to talk about things that are a part of everyday life just because it might make us feel a little uncomfortable. It's been said that knowledge is power, but keeping it to myself does nothing for the people I love and care about.
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