Kansas University is failing to adequately inform its students about sexual health.
That's according to the Trojan Sexual Health Report Card released Tuesday by the makers of Trojan condoms and Sperling's Best Places.
KU ranked 79th among 100 public and private colleges scored by the report. KU received the following grades:
¢ Web site, C.
¢ Condom availability, F.
¢ Contraception, C.
¢ HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing, C.
¢ Sexual assault services, D.
¢ Advice columns and Q&As;, F.
¢ Outreach programs and lectures, D.
The ranking "appalled" Bill Smith, public health educator for Student Health Services at KU, who said KU did a much better job at educating students about sexual health than the report indicated.
"Obviously, they didn't talk to anyone who does the work," Smith said.
And he's right.
Bert Sperling, president of research for Sperling's Best Places, conducted the survey. Sperling's Best Places is an Internet publication that specializes in comparing and ranking various places and their institutions.
Sperling said he initially tried contacting about 25 colleges on the survey but found the process "very frustrating."
So Sperling said he put himself in the shoes of a college student. He said most students use the Internet as a primary resource, so that's what he did. He based much of the survey on the information available on the schools' Web sites, including KU's at www.studenthealth.ku.edu.
Sperling said he primarily evaluated KU by his findings online compared with other universities' Web sites. He said he didn't think KU did a good job of providing information on sexual health.
How KU stacks up
Yale University received the only straight-A score on the Trojan Sexual Health Report Card, which ranked schools on their resources about sexual health, depth of online information and availability of condoms on campus. Rounding out the top five were the University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Stanford University and Oregon State University. How other Big 12 schools fared: ¢ No. 26 - University of Nebraska ¢ No. 32 - University of Colorado. ¢ No. 36 - University of Oklahoma. ¢ No. 39 - Texas A&M; University. ¢ No. 53 - University of Texas. ¢ No. 60 - Kansas State University. ¢ No. 69 - Iowa State University. ¢ No. 79 - Kansas University. ¢ No. 94 - Texas Tech University. ¢ No. 97 - Oklahoma State University. The University of Missouri and Baylor University were not included in the study.
For instance, Sperling said the Web site has a link about Plan B, the newly approved morning after pill, that takes you to another Web site. He suggested KU should instead provide students data on the drug's availability at KU and other more digestible information. He also couldn't find good information on condom availability, which led to KU's failing grade in that category.
But Smith called Sperling's testing methods unfair.
"I think that is the wrong way to do a survey," Smith said. "I don't think the scores provide a true representation of the colleges."
Smith's primary job is to help educate the student body on health issues, which includes sexual health. He discussed a variety of ways that he does that, including presentations, information tables and the recent Clean-N-Safe campaign, which he said has lead to more testing for sexual diseases.
KU received a D for sexual assault services.
But Smith pointed out that the university has Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center, which provides information, resources and assistance on women's and gender-related issues, including sexual violence.
As for the F in condom availability, he said condoms are available to residence halls, scholarship halls, fraternities and sororities for free through the Student Health Services "condom availability program."
Smith said Student Health Services also provides condoms in "safer sex kits." At Watkins Memorial Health Center, they can be purchased three for 50 cents.
But Matt Geier, KU freshman and Delta Chi fraternity member, said he didn't know condoms were available to his house.
"We haven't been told about them if they are," he said.
As for a C grade for KU's Web site, Smith agreed it isn't easy to navigate and could use some work.
"We are addressing that issue and constantly working on getting information about sexual health to our students," Smith said.
Jonathan Pryor, a KU senior, said he thought KU did "pretty well" at informing students. He recalled learning about the available services during orientation and at information tables during Hawk Week.
Smith said KU would have its annual Wellness Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 27 on the lawn in front of Watson Library. The fair will cover a range of health-related topics, including sex.
According to the report card, many college students may be left ill-informed about safer sex and more at risk for sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies because of lack of access to information about sexual health and availability of condoms at some schools.
Yale University received the only perfect score and was found to have excellent resources for students. Yale also has annual Sex Week at Yale, which promotes open on-campus discussions of sex and relationships and makes information about sexual health accessible.
Two universities received all Fs: the University of Notre Dame, which ranked No. 99, and Brigham Young University, No. 100.