Dorm condom plan hits 'box-or-bag' snag

Monday, September 1, 2008 | 6:09 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA - Box or baggie?

That was the question the Missouri Students Association had to resolve when it encountered a glitch in its plan to put condom dispensers in some MU dorms.

How it started

The effort to put condom dispensers in dorms began in 2006 when the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity joined forces with MU Student Health Center and sent proposals to the Missouri Students Association and Residence Halls Association. Later that year, the Missouri Students Association passed Bill 46-10, "A Resolution Supporting Free Distribution in Residence Halls." It was the first piece of legislation passed in the Sexual Health and Safety Products Implementation Initiative.

The Missouri Students Association backed up its support with research. In 2005, the MU Student Health Center posted a survey to 6,000 random undergraduates at MU and found that 75 percent of students described themselves as sexually active, and of those, 70 percent had engaged in sexual activity in the last 30 days.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute conducted another survey in 2004 using data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The survey found that one-half of all sexually active college students will contract a sexually transmitted infection by age 25.



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The proposal - the Sexual Health and Safety Products Implementation Initiative - called for a free condom and a sexual health information pamphlet to be distributed from dispensers in a small bag.

The pilot program will take place in three to seven residence halls for a minimum of three years. Installation of the dispensers was scheduled for this summer, but the plan developed a snag.

Missouri Students Association Vice President Chelsea Johnson said the bags containing the condoms and the pamphlet were getting stuck inside the machines.

Johnson and Nate Ballance, vice president of the Residence Halls Association, met Thursday to discuss how to resolve the problem. They decided that instead of bags, the condoms and pamphlet would be dispensed in small cardboard boxes.

"The bags weren't compatible with the machines," Ballance said.

Now, they'll pop out in a cardboard sleeve that Ballance compared to the packaging of candy bars.

The boxes will cost the Residence Halls Association an additional $950. The decision to also dispense female condoms added another $1,025 to the total cost.

Ballance said the association will cover the additional costs and is looking into a yearly fundraiser if the pilot program is successful.

Johnson estimated that the dispensers would be shipped in two to seven weeks. The student program SHAPE (Sexual Health Advocate Peer Education) will package the condoms and pamphlets before the dispensers arrive. The goal is that the dispensers are installed and working within the next eight weeks.

The initiative is the culmination of a two-year effort to make condoms easily available to students to combat an increase of sexually transmitted diseases at MU. The Residence Halls Association plans to survey students living in the pilot residence halls before the dispensers are installed and conduct another survey afterward to gauge the program's usefulness.

"We are doing this for our residents," Ballance said. "We have representatives in each hall and they thought students would make good use of them and appreciate their availability,"

The residence halls that are part of the pilot project are Center, Gillett, Lathrop, Mark Twain, South and Wolpers. "The goal is to have them in every residence hall eventually," Johnson said.

Last semester, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton wrote a letter providing his support for free condoms in residential halls as long as their purchase was funded solely through student associations. The Residence Halls met soon after to discuss funding.

The cost of each dispenser is $1,800, and stocking costs another $500 for the first year. But the residence halls couldn't come up with enough money; they only had $4,900, even with money donated by the Legion of Black Collegians: enough for two machines.

The Missouri Students Association decided to step in and contribute the remaining $8,900 needed to buy six dispensers.

"If enough student organizations support condoms in the residential halls, MSA has a responsibility to make a statement and put forth an amount to pilot the program," Johnson said.

Condoms can also be found at the Women's Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center and the Student Health Center during business hours. Questions can be directed to the office of the Residence Halls Association at


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daisy core September 1, 2008 | 9:01 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Charles Dudley Jr September 2, 2008 | 7:18 a.m.

My question has to be is why in our educational institutions are they teaching safe sex and alternate sex instead of teaching abstinence so our society will stop having babies making babies and thus putting more of a burden on our already over burdened health care systems that are in danger of a total collapse at this time.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 2, 2008 | 9:19 a.m.

I'd imagine Bristol Palin got a good bit of abstinence education. It doesn't work very well in our modern society.


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 2, 2008 | 9:39 a.m.

Seems like a lot of money is being wasted on campus when "free" condoms have been available from Planned Parenthood along with some health education which students could blend with morality issues from the Neuman Center and other religous/family values organizations and contrast with media messages and peer pressure and then decide for themselves and face the consequences. (Straight, gay, bi or abstain.) My question for today is what constitues a meaningful relationship vs. disposal relationship, by today's standards, and are college students emotionally and spiritually mature enough to handle either? "Safe" sex has come to mean STD protection, but I contend that "safe" sex includes emotional and spiritual maturity. Free condoms, distributed on campus in the manner described in this article, seem to encourage promiscuity. A natural outcome for a campus that also encourages "power" drinking.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 2, 2008 | 10:17 a.m.

Well Mark Foecking and to think her mom is pretty hard core "pro choice" you would also think her mother would have taught her daughter "planned parenthood" as well. To think this young lady's mom is also running to potentially be the leader of the free world as well. Now for me I certainly will never vote for any candidate who is as hard core pro choice as Sarah Palin is but cannot even educate her own daughter in the home on the values of planned parenthood. That is just not the kind of role model I want in office as a role model for our children to look up to.
The only reason planned parenthood is not working in our society today is due to the "utter failure of parents" to teach it in the home first and foremost and this also goes back to another post I made about parents leaving the responsibilities of raising their children into the hands of others.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 2, 2008 | 1:36 p.m.

You mean "pro-life", don't you?

Would you rather Bristol have an abortion? She's a kid - she made a mistake. They're doing everything a conservative family would do in a situation like this.

I don't see where this should be held against Palin. Vote for her, or not, on the basis of her politics, but not on the basis of her family life. That's irrelevant.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 2, 2008 | 3:05 p.m.

This is a four-campus university, with 56% of its students - more than half - located on the Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis campuses. My question is this: what is the University System's policy concerning condoms and condom distribution? Is there a unified policy? If not, why not?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 2, 2008 | 3:33 p.m.

Chuck, you have no idea of what Sarah Palin and her husband may or may not have taught their kids about sex education. You're letting your support for Obama cloud the issue. No parents are perfect and kids don't listen to every little thing their parents say. To say this reflects back on Sarah Palin and her ability to serve as VP is ludicrous.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 2, 2008 | 4:07 p.m.

Ya Mark Foecking it is pro life but my point is and always will be that sex education and planned parenthood begin in the home. I personally do not want any candidate in the White House who cannot teach those simple ethics to her own daughter if she is planning to possibly be a leader of our country or even of the free world. Call it old fashioned if you like that is your choice. I also vote on issues not on people and I for one do not like the issues she nor McCain present to the citizens of this nation. Do ya get it now?

(Report Comment)
Lane Wilson September 2, 2008 | 9:13 p.m.

I agree with and applaud Obama for making it clear that Palin's daughter's pregnancy has no role in the politics leading to the election. Most people recognize that such personal events should be left to the family so that the best choice can be made. However, I find it very interesting that exactly the opposite view is held by people like Sarah Palin. Staunch pro-lifers such as Palin do not want there to be a choice for anyone.

Charles, no one is arguing with you that sex education should begin in the home. It should. However, you repeatedly imply it should end there as well. Why? Should kids with uneducated parents be denied such knowledge?

Further, it has clearly been demonstrated abstinence only education does not work. Comprehensive sex education INCLUDES abstinence education. So what is the issue? When kids are taught about alcohol, they aren't just told to not drink. They also learn how important it is for someone who has been drinking to not drive. Should we remove this element of alcohol education because alcohol education should begin in the home?
Lastly, for those of you concerned about the cost of all these condoms, I think they're probably significantly cheaper than the hit our health care system takes with STD and pregnancy visits!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 3, 2008 | 5:36 a.m.

No I never said it should end there by far but if it is taught in the home first then the proper ground work has been lain in place for the school work to actually sink in is my point of view just as any subject taught in school.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 3, 2008 | 6:15 a.m.

The University of Missouri System's policy regarding condoms and condom distribution says...? Well, if there isn't any policy, it can't say anything. So there's no confusion here, the point is not the distribution of condoms - no problem there - it's about university policy. This joke called a "system" has now been in place nearly 50 years; when are we going to act as if it has relevance?

(Report Comment)

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