Condoms on a table at the Get Yourself Tested kickoff event at Reilly Room. Photo By Adam Cvik
BRITTANY BLUTHARDT | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of campus health organizations’ efforts to eliminate stigmas surrounding sex, students can now find free condoms in all residence halls and more free STI testing. The state of Indiana provides these condoms at no cost to Butler University.
Sarah Vitelli, Ross Hall resident assistant, noticed a container of condoms in one of the Ross Hall lobby bathrooms.
“Ross is a very sex positive environment,” Vitelli said. “I think it is having an impact on students since the condoms are being depleted. I hope students realize [sex] is something they have under their control.”
The first annual GYT Kickoff educated students on safe sex and offered free STI testing yesterday afternoon in the Reilly Room.
The sex-ed fair featured 11 health organizations from Butler’s campus and the Indianapolis area, including Planned Parenthood and Indiana University Health LifeCare. BU’s Health Education and Outreach Programs, and Peers Advocating Wellness for Students (PAWS) sponsored the event.
Sara Minor, prevention educator and victim resource specialist for the Office of Health Education and Outreach Programs, helped plan the event.
“One of our goals is to destigmatize testing and to bring awareness to what the testing process looks like,” Minor said. “We are really trying to make this an inclusive event and to educate students on what kinds of testing practices they should pursue.”
The GYT event offered free testing for specific STIs, like gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, HIV and herpes.
“The event also brings awareness to how STIs are transmitted and the importance of healthy relationships and sexual health,” Minor said.
Health Education and Outreach Programs conducted a survey over the summer about students’ attitudes and beliefs about testing in an open environment. Minor said the survey produced mixed reviews.
“This [GYT Kickoff] meets the needs of students who may not want to come to the health center to get tested,” Minor said.
The class of 2021 took another health survey, Think About It, before the beginning of the semester. Approximately 35 percent of women and 39 percent of men are sexually active, while only seven percent of men and five percent of women use a condom every time they have sex.
“We’re trying to educate students on what kinds of testing practices they should be pursuing,” Minor said. “We’re finding ways to be more inclusive about the services we offer to make sure we reach students who identify as LGBTQ+ as well.”
The Damien Center first came to Butler around 2015 to offer free testing for students. The center collaborated with Bell Flower clinic after they could no longer test every student at the GYT events due to low staffing. The GYT event tests around 50 students per month.
Imani Nunley is the prevention program manager for The Damien Center, a nonprofit testing clinic.
“We know college students are on a tight budget,” Nunley said. “It requires no appointment and students can walk in at any time.”
She said it is important for students to know their “status.”
“Not only are you protecting yourself, but your partners as well,” Nunley said. “Just because you aren’t having symptoms doesn’t mean you cannot be infected.”
Students can find information regarding GYT events and sexual health on the health services’ website and on the HRC’s Twitter account.