CSU drops in sexual health ranking

Stephanie Mason

In an annual sexual health report sponsored by Trojan Condoms, Colorado State University’s ranking dropped 16 places from 2012. CSU moved from a 9th place in 2012 to 25th in the 2014 Sexual Health Report Card.

There are six locations in Hartshorn Health Center where condoms are available to students free of charge. Photo by Stephanie Mason.
There are six locations in Hartshorn Health Center where condoms are available to students free of charge. Photo by Stephanie Mason.

According to Gwen Sieving, director of sexual health and outreach initiatives at CSU, there was a miscommunication with the deadline for the 2014 report. Sieving believes CSU’s ranking drop is due to the fact that CSU did not get a chance to talk to the researchers directly.

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“My hunch would be because we haven’t talked to them directly,” Sieving said. “We in no way have flipped on any of those services. In fact, I think we have enhanced several of those in the last three to four years.”

The report card is a ranking system for 140 universities across the country. There are 10 main categories that are used to rate the 140 schools on their sexual health programs. These categories include hours of operation, contraceptive availability, STI testing, condom availability, outreach programs and website quality.

“We definitely meet all those criteria that are on the check sheet,” Sieving said.

There is also an ‘extra credit’ category for innovative ideas that universities are using, like the SexPositive smartphone app created by the University of Oregon, which is the highest ranked on the 2014 report card. According to Sperling, the study likes to see a forum of open communication about sexual health.

“One thing we look for that is very highly regarded on our scoring is a column that is part of the school’s student newspaper where students can ask anonymous questions,” said Bert Sperling of Sperling’s Best Places, the company behind the study. “It really opens up dialogue and makes the students more informed.”

The top five schools, in descending order, are Oregon State University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Maryland, University of Arizona and Stanford University.

The report is created through both verbal communication and a university health center online analysis.

“The makers of Trojan™ Brand Condoms believe colleges and universities have a responsibility to help students develop sexually healthy attitudes and behaviors by providing unfettered access to information, services and products,” wrote a Trojan spokesperson in an email to the Collegian. “By calling attention to the state of sexual health on campus, we hope to get people talking about the issues, initiating change and making smart decisions about their sexual health.”

According to Sperling, the survey does not get questionnaire responses from all schools.

While reading off the CSU scoring sheet, Sperling noted that the rankings were almost all 8, 9, or 10 out of a 10 point scale. Sperling said that CSU’s given grade on the report card was an A-.

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“Colorado State is doing a wonderful job,” Sperling said. “Schools are getting always better and better.”

Sperling said that schools that were ranked high on the study had a great deal of innovations that were put into the extra credit category.

According to Sperling, students are using the information found in the sexual health report card to open conversation to providing better sexual health options.

“What this does is it places information in the hands of the students so that they know how their school compares with other schools across the country,” Sperling said.

Over the past few years, the health center has added a Transgender Team that specializes in the health needs of transgender students.

Every spring, Hartshorn Health Center runs a Get Yourself Tested campaign during which sexually transmitted infection testing is offered at a discounted rate. In 2013, there were 125 tests given. This number increased in 2014 when 243 tests were given during the GYT Campaign.

The health center is looking to make condoms more readily available to students at either a discounted rate or for free. Last year 20,000 condoms were given out by the health center. There are six places in the health center where free condoms are available.

“Its not about people engaging in sex,” Sperling said. “We really have no point of view regarding that. We just want to know what kind of resources are available to students. When the time is right, they will have the knowledge and the resources and the services so they can make smart decisions.”

Collegian Science and Technology Beat Reporter can be reached at news@collegian.com or through her twitter @StephersMason