Originally Publish in the New Guard Blog at yaf.org
To the international community, the Olympic Games embodies athletes’ passion for physical discipline, moral rigor, and educational pursuit. But apparently at UVa, the Olympics represents students’ passion for noncommittal sex, a profuseness of condoms, and sexually explicit entertainment.
This past Sunday Faulkner Residential Staff, sponsored by Elson Student Health and Condomania, hosted the first annual “Condom Olympics,” a “festival” of “free food, free games, free prizes, free condoms, free lube, and free online coupons” that guaranteed “information about proper condom use, safe and effective forms of birth control, STI testing, screening, and prevention, sex facts, and trivia.”
In addition to reducing its student body to uncontrollable sexual beings devoid of discipline or ethical awareness, the Condom Olympics was wrought by three main issues.
First, this event lacked any reliable educational component. Advertisements promised the event to be staffed “by local healthcare professionals as well as student leaders from around grounds.” In actuality, neither healthcare professionals nor Peer Health leadership were present for the duration of the event. Rather, Resident Advisors (who, according to interviewed RAs, do not receive any substantial sexual health training) sat around posters decorated with condoms, lube, and questionable facts. The “Condoms and Sexual Health” poster, for instance, derived its information from a website called “ Guyism: What Guys Need” and was written by the author of similarly ridiculous articles like “ Who Would You Rather: Beyonce or Jenifer Aniston?” and “ 14 mind-blowing things you need to know about threesomes.” The “Down ‘n Dirty Jeopardy” poster professed blatant falsehoods. For example, one question,”This is the only contraceptive that can also prevent the spread of STIs, including HIV” had the response “condom.” In fact, abstinence is the only contraception that guarantees protection from STIs.
This brings me to my second concern: the Condom Olympics perpetuates a false social norm that has proven utterly destructive to the UVa community and society. Time and time again, studies indicate that casual sex is harmful to both men and women (though disproportionately so for women). Ironically, Elson Student Health acknowledges, “Overestimating unhealthy behaviors and underestimating healthy behaviors can create internal pressure to behave a certain way. By correcting misperceptions like these and focusing on the accurate ‘norm,’ students have space to act on their own values.” Yet Peer Health continues to portray sex as an extracurricular activity through events like the Condom Olympics and SexFest. Truly empowering students with the information to act on their own values rather than pushing a sex-obsessed agenda would require sexual health events to provide all options equally-including options like abstinence or the calendar rhythm method. It is imperative that university sponsored events cease to pressure students into accepting a blasé view of sex by presenting its carefree participation as the social norm.
Lastly, the Condom Olympics was a gross misuse of university funds. That is right. Both Student Health and the Faulkner Residential Staff are funded by your tuition and tax dollars. What do they use this money for? Condoms, condoms, and more condoms-oh, and lube. The Condom Olympics had an overabundance of [sexually suggestive] food, goodie bags (with, you guessed it, more condoms), and exploitative music. I find it somewhat ironic (nay, disgusting) that the university chooses to splurge on such events amidst drastic cuts to financial aid packages for middle and low income students.
Unfortunately, the Condom Olympics is not an anomaly. It is yet another example of the university’s belief that sexual health simply entails disseminating condoms galore with scant facts and sometimes blatant lies. It is high time that the university-especially Student Health-terminates similarly destructive events and recommits itself to the self-discipline, ethical excellence, and intellectual standards that Mr. Jefferson demanded.
By Christina Hadford, Vice-Chair of UVa YAF
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