The Sex Files #3: Safety Is Just a Knock Away

Welcome to the Sexual Health blog, run by BCSSH!  Here’s the simple version of who we are: we’re a group of students who think that condoms are important.  For the longer version, see our website!

It's not often that I'm woken from a deep sleep by a stranger knocking at my door to request condoms, but it does happen.  And, momentarily disoriented and resentful as I may be, I'm glad it does.  As a volunteer for BC Students for Sexual Health’s Safe Sites, I believe it's important that college students have access to condoms and other life-saving sexual health materials.  And since these materials aren't provided by Health Services, or, for that matter, any other official university body, the responsibility to protect and promote students' sexual health falls to us. 

That's why BCSSH has designated dorm rooms across campus to supply students – and anyone else who knocks – with condoms if requested.  Yup, it's that simple.  Knock on a door marked with the official BCSSH logo and you can get condoms for free, no questions asked.

Brilliant as it is, we at BCSSH can't take sole credit for this idea.  Similar programs have been put in place at universities around the country, including our Jesuit brethren and sistren (let's pretend that's a word – woo, gender equality!), Georgetown.  In fact, our friends at Gerogetown, H*yas for Choice, are way ahead of us.  In their version of the Safe Sites program, each dorm has a dorm captain who has an envelope of condoms taped to his or her door.  Students can access condoms at any time by simply taking one off the door.  BC’s fire code prevents us from using this method, but the upside of knocking at a Safe Site is that you get to talk to us in person!  Definitely a win all around.

So what kinds of goodies will you find at our Safe Sites?  At every site, we offer male condoms and sexual health information, including instructions for how to properly use a condom; resources for men who have sex with women, men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women; and statistics about STIs among college students. 

This year we piloted a new program, adorably/obnoxiously named SuperSafe Sites, where students can consult our sexual health experts for advice as well as get dental dams, female condoms, and lube.  Lube!  Our favorite!  And now, a word about SuperSafe Sites:

<<Momentary pause while I ascend my soapbox>>

SuperSafe sites are not superfluous or promiscuous.  Women who want to protect themselves by using dental dams with other women deserve access to those materials just as must as heterosexual couples who wish to use a condom.  The goal of this program is safety:  all materials available at each site will prevent the spread of STIs, pregnancy, or both.  There has been some confusion about this in the past, but surprisingly enough, we don’t sit around all day dreaming up ways to aggravate the administration.  Safe Sites allow students to make healthy and responsible decisions – that’s the reason we’re here.  And besides, lube is always your friend.

<<Momentary pause while I descend soapbox.  Trip.  Fall off soapbox.>>

People have sometimes wondered if Safe Sites are, at best, unnecessary, and at worst, irresponsible.  We at BCSSH believe that the sites are absolutely necessary to promoting responsibility and health on campus.

In the real world, responsible adults buy their own condoms.  But there's a lot about BC – and college life in general – that isn't quite like the real world.  Many of us live in dorms paid for by our parents and have comprehensive meal plans that allow us to buy three orders of mozzarella sticks at 1:30 am with the swipe of a card (don't tell me I'm the only one).  We live within walking distance of a health center, counseling services, and a gym.  The very basics for survival – food, shelter, health care – are provided for us more easily than will be the case after we get handed our diplomas.  So why shouldn't sexual health be on the same terms?

College students live in transition between the coddling of childhood and the self-sufficiency of "real world" adulthood.  So yes, if you have the financial means (which it would be incorrect to assume all do) and intend to have sex – or know it's a possibility – you should buy your own condoms.  But BCSSH understands that healthy habits aren’t practiced as often as they should be in college.  Maybe you forgot to pick up condoms on your last CVS run.  Maybe you didn't expect to get lucky.  Maybe one thing led to another and that online shopping spree left you with fifteen bucks in your checking account, so condoms weren’t a high priority on your grocery list.  Whatever the reason (remember, we don't judge), Safe Sites are there.

And maybe, just maybe, having regular access to condoms through the Safe Sites program will normalize and promote sexual health.  So when that day comes when it's time to graduate and move on to the "real world," our Safe Sites users will remember how they've built their sexual lives around the regular use of condoms and other sexual health materials, and, understanding the importance of doing so, will take the initiative to continue.

Safe Sites aren't facilitating irresponsibility – they're building the foundation for a lifetime of sexually healthy habits. Because remember:  excess post-midnight mozzarella stick nom-ing aside, this is the real world in that we need to be informed and protect ourselves in order to be healthy.  So feel free to stop by one of our Safe Sites or SuperSafe Sites.  Ask some questions, grab some resources, and be safe!

Peace, love, and lube,

BC Students for Sexual Health