Condom conversations continue at Berry

Annabeth Sadler, Campus Carrier Straff Writer

Lesli Marchese | CAMPUS CARRIER

Condoms are available on the second floor of Evans Hall. Rome’s AIDS Resource Council provides free condoms for students.

Students met with administration to discuss placing a basket of free condoms in the Ladd Center on Feb. 24.

Junior Marcus Ghee began bringing up the issue in SGA discussions last semester. Ghee wanted to know why students don’t have access to contraceptives, specifically condoms, in the health and wellness center. Other students shared his concern and wanted to help. Seniors Elizabeth Zavodny, co-president of LISTEN, and Riannon Howard were among students who saw a need to pursue this issue.

The three students started a petition to get a basket of condoms in the Ladd Center alongside the cabinet of free over-the-counter medicines and supplies. 

After realizing that SGA would not be a successful platform for this issue, Zavodny and Ghee drafted an email to President Stephen R. Briggs and arranged a meeting to pitch the idea. 

Howard, Zavodny and Ghee met with President Briggs, dean of students Debbie Heida and SGA president Teddy Palmer on Feb. 24. The students explained their reasoning and the logistics behind their proposal to place a basket of free condoms in the Ladd Center.

During the meeting, Briggs gave three primary reasons as to why he was hesitant to support the plan. 

Briggs was concerned about the lack of educational value in the gesture. He did not believe that this type of preventive care was going to help students learn about safe sex. To this concern, the three students suggested  including brochures with information on safe sex to go alongside the condoms. However, Briggs said he did not think that was sufficient. 

The second concern voiced was the student responsibility behind the decision. Briggs said that students who could make the conscious decision to be sexually active could take it upon themselves to purchase their own protection.

The third concern was that this gesture would be symbolic. Briggs said that placing free condoms may be seen as the administration condoning a “hook-up culture” on campus. 

“It’s naive of the administration to think students aren’t engaging in this act,” senior Connor Wright, who was present for the SGA debates, said. “But I also understand the reluctance to provide condoms for students since it could be misconstrued as a statement.”

Zavodny and Howard both went to public high schools in Georgia. They explained that not everyone comes into college with the same knowledge about sex and healthy practices. 

“In the South, we don’t get a lot of sexual education,” Howard said.

Howard is the president of EMPOWER. She also frequently volunteers with Women of W.O.R.T.H. in Rome, who offered to supply these  free condoms to the college. 

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