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Sex talk: Trojan ranks MU 83 of 140 schools

National studies assess sexual health across nation, reaffirm importance of sexual education at Miami

By Lana Pochiro, For The Miami Student

Seniors are half as likely as first-years to use condoms during intercourse, according to a recent study conducted by Jonathan Marc Bearak at New York University.

His study collected data from 21 four-year universities and over 10,000 hook-ups.

Specific to Miami, the university ranked 83rd of 140 universities on Trojan's 2014 Sexual Health Report Card. The report is conducted by an independent research firm, Sperling's BestPlaces, and uses criteria such as contraceptive availability, STI and HIV testing and sexual health resource availablity to determine each school's ranking.

Miami's ranking suggests an improvement from last year's 85th place and 2012's 96th.

Director of Student Wellness Rebecca Baudry Young said her department has many programs working on raising the sexual health and education of its students.

One program, aptly titled "Healthy Relationships," helps students determine what is and what is not healthy in their personal relationships.

"It helps students understand communication and how to navigate boundaries and set expectations for a relationship," Young said.

Young also spoke about another program, Crotch Goblins, which educates students about sexually transmitted infections and proper condom use. Young said the program educates students, "not only on protective barriers, but accessories like lubricants and how to use them in safe ways so that students can prevent the transmission of infection."

A third program, Sex in the Basement, addresses issues such as consent, boundaries in sexual interactions and alcohol's role in sexual encounters.

Young said these programs are generally administered in first and second-year residence halls by the request of residence assistants in the building. HAWKS Peer Health Educators coordinate and operate these programs.

The Women's Center also works to foster more positive discussion regarding sex.

Anna Lucia Feldmann, a student intern at the Women's Center and Social Activism Chair for F-Word, talked about the steps the Women's Center is taking to increase safe sex and healthy sexuality.

Part of their efforts work in tandem with the HAWKS Peer Health Educator's programs.

"The interns are working on creating a board about sex positivity to send to residence halls," Feldmann said.

Feldmann said the Women's Center and F-Word are working on events that will open a discourse about sexual health and remove the social stigma surrounding sex.

"I think when we talk about the 'walk of shame,' and other subtle slut-shaming that happens on campus, it makes it a little more difficult to talk about sex in an open, gender-equitable way, and to seek out resources," she said.

Past events such as Condom Carnival furthered a healthy discussion of safe sex on campus and Feldmann said she hopes the events planned for this year will do the same.

"People need to start talking about sex and keep talking about sex outside of the context of hooking up or being at parties," Feldmann said.

Despite Miami's low ranking in Trojan's 2014 Sexual Health Report Card, Feldmann believes in the improvement of sexual health on campus.

"I know people on campus are working really hard to make sure that everyone knows that if they want to have sex, they should and that there are resources available for them," she said. "I definitely think the potential is there. It's up to the students to take the opportunity and run with it."