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Rutgers drops in sexual health rankings released by Trojan condoms

<p>Photo Illustration | The Trojan brand ranks 140 different universities every year to determine how supportive they are of their students’ sexual health. Rutgers was ranked 25 in 2015, but dropped to 43 in 2016.</p>

Photo Illustration | The Trojan brand ranks 140 different universities every year to determine how supportive they are of their students’ sexual health. Rutgers was ranked 25 in 2015, but dropped to 43 in 2016.

Trojan, the condom manufacturer, recently released their annual Sexual Health Report card, with Rutgers— New Brunswick dropping 18 spots since 2015. 

Each year, the Trojan company ranks 140 universities across the nation on sexual health, based on quality of resources at student help centers, quality of sexual health information, contraceptive and condom availability, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and sexual assault programs. 

The report, released on Oct. 11 and conducted by Sperling's BestPlaces, is topped by the University of Georgia. Rutgers, coming in at number 43, dropped from number 25 last year.

“Student health centers were graded on services across 11 categories,” said Sperling's BestPlaces lead researcher Bert Sperling. 

The University of Georgia took first place for offering “superior sexual health resources,” including a program called the Condom Express, according to the report.

“It’s definitely concerning,” said School of Arts and Sciences junior Alyssa Cohen. “I do think that they give enough information (to students).”

Cohen, who regularly uses health services at Rutgers, said some students willingly disregard the sexual health information put forth by University Health Services and engage in unsafe sexual behaviors.

Students should utilize the services offered through health services and know that Rutgers still has a plethora of services available, regardless of the results of the study, said Francesca Maresca, director of Health Outreach, Promotion and Education (H.O.P.E.).

She said students should not get hung up on Rutgers dropping in the report, but should know that the University offers a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services on campus.

“I think it’s much more important that students not necessarily look at this survey as a ‘Oh my gosh we dropped, we’re bad,’ kind of thing, but say, ‘Wait a minute, what do we have here? What services are available to me as a student who’s interested in pursuing my sexual and reproductive health here?’” Maresca said.

John Noonan, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he was surprised and concerned in Rutgers’ drop in ranking.

“It’s certainly important, and it’s surprising that we dropped," Noonan said. "I don’t know if it’s a degradation on Rutgers, but the fact that everyone else, a lot of other universities are pulling their weight better, that is, I guess, concerning."

The University of Georgia stole the top spot from Oregon State University, which held the number one slot for two years in a row. According to Sperling’s BestPlaces, the University of Georgia’s students’ attention to bolstering their sexual health resources helped their ranking move up from number three.

Rutgers offers numerous services to students, including pap smears, annual exams and a lactation room for female-identified students, as well as men’s health visits and LBGTQ health care, according to the website.

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, Hepatitis A, B and C, HIV and trichomoniasis is also available to Rutgers students. It is recommended to get tested annually for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV, according to the website.

“I think the fact that we offer the full range of sexual and reproductive health care for our students to use, which means that we offer STI testing, we offer contraceptive counseling and we offer the full range of long-acting reversible contraception (is important),” Maresca said.

Cohen said she believes are willfully ignorant of safe practices. She said she never had a problem with using health services and is satisfied with both the information available to her and the services she has received.

Since being instituted in 2006, Trojan’s Sexual Health Report card has fostered friendly competition between schools within the rankings. This competition has encouraged schools to improve current sexual health resources and even implement new resources for students on campus, like the University of Georgia’s Condom express, according to the website.

Maresca said she wants students to be proactive and urges them to do what she calls a risk assessment for themselves, asking questions such as if they have been sexually active under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, had unprotected sex or had sex with more than one person.

“It’s also, to me, it’s very much something about all of your health and wellness, this isn’t just about sex,” she said.

Katherine Moretti is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in classics. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

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