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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Students hand out condoms to advocate for sexual health program

    Students walking down Wisconsin Avenue Monday morning got an early Valentine’s Day gift: candy and condoms.

    The condoms were provided by Planned Parenthood and distributed by students.

    “This is just kind of a halfway point,” Mary Claire Burkhardt, a freshman in the College of Education, said. “This is much closer in proximity than Planned Parenthood.”

    Volunteers encouraged passersby with a variety of phrases invoking Valentine’s Day. The volunteers are not affiliated with a specific organization and identify themselves simply as “concerned citizens.”

    Esther Aviles, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, estimated that over 2,000 condoms were dispensed. This matched the quotas the volunteers achieved during December for their AIDS Awareness campaign.

    The candy was included to make people feel less bashful about grabbing the brown paper bags.

    “The candy certainly helps to make things a little bit less awkward,” Burkhardt said.

    The standard paper bag contained two Pixy Stix and five condoms.

    Avlies said the giveaway was spurred by Marquette’s high concentration of sexually transmitted infections. However, survey data from the 2012 National College Health Assessment Survey, the latest available, found 3.2 percent of Marquette students reported having an STI that year compared to 3.6 percent nationally. The volunteers used the sidewalk in front of Raynor Memorial Library because the space is technically off-campus. The high-traffic area allowed for  quick distribution.

    “We cleared out an entire bag in the first rush,” Aviles said.

    The condoms also included information taped to the wrappers concerning safe sex.

    “We’re going to go until all the condoms are gone,” Aviles said.

    The dispensation is an attempt to get Marquette to adopt a sexual health program. While a program that dispenses contraceptives might go against Jesuit values, the volunteers cited Tufts University as an example of a private university with a substantial sexual health program.

    Tufts does not have a religious affiliation.

    Ann Hilbert, administrative assistant at Campus Ministry, said while Campus Ministry is aware of the dispensation, it has no official comment to make at this time, because the volunteers are not affiliated or backed by the university.

    “As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Marquette deeply values our religious identity and does not provide or prescribe contraceptives through our student health service, with exceptions made only when required as the result of a medical condition,” associate director of university communication Chris Jenkins said. “We do not control information or materials that are handed out on public sidewalks.”

    The volunteers hope that their dispensation made a difference and that Marquette will consider establishing a sexual health organization in the future.

    “Until a program is established, we’ll be out here doing this,” Aviles said.

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