Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Letter to the editor

Raising awareness on sexual health issues

Promoting a safe environment for students should be just as important as providing a quality education at any university.

A safe environment does not only consist of a campus that is protected by university police, but also one where the health and livelihood of its students are secured. Unfortunately, the struggle for ensuring this very type of environment is put at risk by the staggering rates of sexually transmitted infections among youth. Half of those who are sexually active will contract an STI by the age of 25, according to the American Social Health Association. Washington D.C. had the highest HIV-infection rate of any city in 2011, at 3 percent, according to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Recognizing this reality, students at GW have decided to advocate for access to free condoms.

A plan was designed by Allied in Pride to ensure that all students would have access to free condoms, provided by the D.C. Department of Public Health, at any time of the day. Dispensers were to be placed in discrete areas of each residence hall, such as laundry or mailrooms. House staff would be free of finding creative ways to distribute the condoms the University provides them with. Currently, free condoms are only available to students through public interactions at venues such as student health service or through house staff members.

Students presented the plan to the administration, citing that each condom dispenser would cost less than an automatic paper towel dispenser and that the condoms would be provided for free by the D.C. Department of Public Health. At a University as wealthy as ours, and one that spends frivolously on things such as President Steven Knapp’s $1 million salarys, student health should not be overlooked. Dispensers would have displayed important information on maintaining sexual health, such as where to get free testing, and they would have offered comprehensive options—like female condoms and lubricant.

Instead of accepting our plan, administrators proposed what they deemed an alternative plan, selling condoms in vending machines for $2. The new effort failed to address the underlying purpose of the initiative: to raise awareness on sexual health issues while providing free preventative resources.

The administration’s continued resistance to understand the needs of a diverse student population will ultimately be deemed misguided. This minimal investment is the least the University can do to commit to protecting its students’ health and wellness.

Sexual health, especially in D.C., is about protecting individuals’ lives. Join me, more than 20 GW student organizations, D.C. community groups and Mayor Vincent Gray in support of the condom dispenser initiative—a vital move to guaranteeing the safety of all GW students.

Nick Gumas, freshman co-chair of Allied in Pride.

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