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Students hand out condoms the day before Valentine’s Day

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Students hand out condoms the day before Valentine’s Day

Marquette should take steps to help students prioritize sexual health.

Marquette should take steps to help students prioritize sexual health.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Marquette should take steps to help students prioritize sexual health.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Marquette should take steps to help students prioritize sexual health.

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A group of Marquette University students handed out condoms to students on the public sidewalk in front of Raynor Memorial Library Feb. 13  at 11 a.m. They were gone within an hour.

Shannon O’Connor, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, planned the event. She said the students decided to hand out condoms to other students to promote safe sex. O’Connor has passed out condoms the day before Valentine’s Day for the past two years, she said.

“The goal was to raise awareness about STDs that are rampant on this campus and to promote safe and consensual sex among students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community,” O’Connor said. 

Chris Stolarski, university spokesperson, said the university would never approve a student organization event with the stated intent of distributing condoms.
“It’s important to reemphasize that the students who distributed such materials on February 13 did so on a public sidewalk, expressing their right to free speech,” Stolarski said in an email.
Diverse and Resilient, a non-profit organization in Wisconsin, provided 1,000 male condoms, 25 female condoms and small bottles of lubricant, which the volunteer students divided into packs. O’Connor said her and the group of volunteers reached out to the organization. 

According to Diverse and Resilient’s website, its mission is to achieve health equity and to improve the safety and well-being for LGBTQ people and communities in Wisconsin. 

O’Connor said students’ reactions varied when she stood on Wisconsin Avenue and asked if they wanted a few condoms.

“We actually got some pretty mixed reactions,” O’Connor said. “One or two people were obviously upset with it. One student actually took the bag and threw it at the library. Most people were a tad embarrassed and just sort of ignored us. A good amount of people, though, thanked us and even asked for more baggies.”

Hannah Badeau, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she chose to hand out condoms because Marquette does not provide contraceptives.

“The university’s clinic does provide STI testing and is fully prepared to assist students after a sexual encounter, but is unwilling to provide means for sexually active adults to take proactive measures to practicing safe sex,” Badeau said in an email. 

Stolarski said Marquette deeply values its religious identity and does not distribute contraceptives through its student health services.

“Students have a free speech right to distribute materials on public sidewalks,” Stolarski said in an email. “The university does not control information or materials that are handed out on public sidewalks.”

O’Connor said she has no plans to change the format of this event for next year, which has occurred during previous school years.

“Overall, I thought it was really cool to provide students with something so important that Marquette unfortunately does not,” O’Connor said.

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