Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Trojan Condoms released their annual Sexual Health Report Card last week, ranking Brown ninth among 141 schools across the nation.

The report card ranked the University of South Carolina first, followed by Stanford University, the University of Connecticut and Columbia University.

"The survey is a great resource for the student health centers to see how they compare with other schools," said Bert Sperling, president of Sperling's Best Places, the independent research firm that ran the study. "I don't think there's anything else like this out there."

Criteria for the four-year-old survey include students' opinions of their health center, as well as the quality and cost of sexual health resources and services at schools, according to Sperling.

To acquire their data, researchers sent a questionnaire to each school's health services department to gather basic information on services provided. They also evaluated the departments' Web sites and polled students through Facebook.

Sperling said the firm's Facebook advertising campaign asked students from each school in the study to respond to a list of questions regarding their student health centers and sexual issues. The campaign brought in some 7,000 responses total, with an average of 50 per school, and no less than 20 from each school, Sperling said.

Brown has always been in the top third of the ranked schools and has increased in rank every year, from 17th last year and 39th the year before. This year is Brown's first time in the top ten.

Brown Health Educator Naomi Ninneman said she was skeptical about the accuracy of the rankings.

"The reason we moved up last year was because they hadn't really done their research, to be honest," Ninneman said. Sperling admitted that the evaluation relied more heavily on anecdotes than it does now.

This year, a new condom dispenser in the bathroom of J. Walter Wilson was likely an important factor in increasing the University's score, Ninneman added.

Brown scored in the 97th percentile in the Facebook student polls, Sperling said.

"Students felt that Brown was doing a very good job with the health center, has complete services, is trustworthy — that sort of thing," he said.

Ninneman said Brown's approach to sexual health includes information programs — such as "Sex Jeopardy," table-slipping campaigns, guest speakers and the Health Services Web site — and supplies provided at low costs, including condom dispensers, cheap condoms available on resident peer counselors' doors and contraceptives available at Health Services.

Sperling also said Health Services' Web site was easy to use.

Health Services' HIV-testing program is in the "top tier" and its hours of operation are excellent, he said.

Still, Sperling has a few tips for "fine-tuning" the University's programs.

"There could be more flexibility as far as students who wanted to drop in and didn't want to make an appointment, for instance," he said.

Though rare, some schools' student publications include columns for students to read responses to anonymous questions about sexual health. These columns boost the schools' scores significantly in the category of availability of anonymous advice, Sperling said.

The University's ratings for student peer groups and for lecture and outreach programs were also not as high they could be, he said.

"There was some use of that, but it wasn't as good as other schools," he said.
Male Sexuality Workshop facilitator Michael Tackeff '12 said the average rating for student groups is "very bizarre."

"I'd have to disagree," he said. "All of my friends at Ivies and other schools don't have anything like this, so it surprises me that they'd say we're not cool with student groups."
Sperling would also like to see a specific section on Heath Services' Web site "that targets sexual health and awareness."

Another category for the ranking was contraceptive availability and cost.

"Whenever something was provided for free, that definitely improved the rankings," Sperling said. He noted that Yale was able to score some extra points in this category for providing free emergency contraception.

Ninneman said Brown provides many safer sex resources at minimal cost, but providing them for free would not be feasible.

The five lowest-ranking schools have Christian affiliations, including nearby Providence College, which ranked third-to-last. The study did not directly penalize schools that advocated abstinence, Sperling said. But, he added. those schools often do not provide sexual-health resources or inform students about safer sex, and thus rank lower.

"At Brown, it's a risk-reduction strategy," Ninneman said. "Studies show that making condoms available does not increase sex, but it makes sex safer and students healthier."



Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.