Students may be greeted by a 6-foot-tall condom on their way to class Wednesday.
Campus Health Service is hosting its annual Sexual Health Resource Fair, where students can learn about sexual health resources on campus and in the community. Students can also take a photo with Mr. Condom, a 6-foot-tall condom that will be handing out condoms on the UA Mall during the fair.
William Simmons, an associate professor who teaches sexual health and AIDS in the department of gender and women’s studies, had his students plan the Condom Olympics this year as a new addition to Sex Talk Week.
Simmons said he doesn’t like exams or term papers for his students and always tries to find an action learning assignment. This is the first year he is teaching the sex health class, so when he reached out to Campus Health, staff there welcomed the idea of Condom Olympics and suggested his students host it during the fair.
The olympics will take place right next to the resource fair and include athletic events such as a condom-wrapped egg toss. Students can also see and make condom art and join a condom scavenger hunt on the Mall.
Anyone can join any of the olympic events, and there will be mini prizes for competition winners, Simmons added.
Simmons said he hopes the olympics will break down some of the stigma students might still feel when using, buying or getting free condoms.
“Hopefully this will get students comfortable knowing what condoms are,” Simmons said, “and if they ever need them that they won’t be prevented by stigma or awkwardness.”
The fair, which has been hosted by Campus Health for more than 25 years, will offer students interactive booths where they can play games and talk to more than a dozen different community resource groups about pregnancy prevention, STD testing, sexual assault, healthy relationships and birth control. Nurse practitioners will be at the fair to answer students’ questions about sexual health, Hamilton said.
“The overall goal is to get people talking about sex and making healthy choices if they choose to be sexually active,” said Lee Ann Hamilton, assistant director of Health Promotion and Preventive Services at Campus Health. “It’s really to get people aware of the resources both on campus and in the community.”
The Pima County Health Department will also bring its mobile testing van to the campus to give free STD testing for a limited number of students.
Jennifer Hoefle-Olson, program director for LGBTQ Affairs, said Sex Talk week provides an opportunity to have an honest conversation about sex and offer students information about valuable resources.
“We know that our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer students also need to have that conversation and to get resources,” Hoefle-Olson said. “So we partner with campus health on events during Sex Talk Week to make sure that there’s content that is relevant to our LGBTQ students.”
The sex education students receive during high school is typically not inclusive of LGBTQ relationships or practices, Hoefle-Olson said, adding that LGBTQ Affairs has to make up for that lack of knowledge students have coming in from high school.
Being able to partner with Campus Health and be a part of a bigger, annual event helps LGBTQ Affairs reach out to more students and educate them on these issues, she said. The LGBTQ booth will include a game where students can learn how to practice safe sex in a variety of potential sexual encounters.
Hoefle-Olson said the addition of the Condom Olympics will be helpful because it might interest students in the fair. Anything that helps start a conversation about safe sex practices is very important, Hoefle-Olson added.
“If people are going to have sex — and we know that many college students do have sex — they need to be prepared to do it safely,” Hoefle-Olson said, “and of course have a lot of fun but … you have to be able to be safe about it.”