Georgetown Drops in Sexual Health Rankings

Georgetown slipped from 112th in 2015 to 126th place out of 140 universities this year in Trojan’s annual Sexual Health Report Card, narrowly edging out placement in the bottom ten schools.

Released Oct. 11, the report examines the sexual health resources on college campuses across the United States, grading schools in eleven categories, including condom availability, contraceptive availability, sexually transmitted infections testing, sexual assault programs and sexual health outreach.

Trojan has conducted the study with research firm Sperling’s BestPlaces since 2006.

Georgetown previously ranked 93rd in 2014 and 96th in 2013. This year, the University of Georgia clinched first place, trailed by Oregon State University in second and University of Michigan in third.

Bert Sperling, founder and owner of Sperling’s BestPlaces, said the drop does not necessarily indicate Georgetown’s sexual health environment has worsened over the past year — other schools might have simply improved faster, jumping over Georgetown on the list.

“Because this is a ranking, some of the decline might be due to some schools improving more than Georgetown,” Sperling said. “Georgetown is doing a great job of providing health service to the students. But not so much when it comes to providing information for students to make informed, safe, healthy choices when it comes to sexual health issues.”

Sperling said problems persisted with Georgetown’s sexual health outreach programs, particularly the Student Health Center website. Currently, the website lists common first signs of pregnancy and directs students to the Health Education Services.

“We’re seeing some slippage in the category of sexual information on Georgetown’s Student Health Center website, and in our ‘extra credit’ category, which scores the quantity and quality of unique programs, initiatives and services that help enable students to make smart decisions and stay healthy,” Sperling said.

Trojan, which will donate more than 100,000 condoms to various schools throughout the country in 2016, said in the report that the findings often motivate schools to improve their sexual health services.

“Comparing year-over-year rakings, it is clear that schools continue to make sexual health a priority,” the report reads. “Since its inaugural report, the Trojan Sexual Health Report Card continues to grow and positively impact college campuses as students continue to push to improve their rankings. Schools continue to elevate their standing as they strive for better offerings on campus.”

Assistant Vice President of Student Health Vincent WinklerPrins did not respond to The Hoya’s request for comment.

Under current university policy, Georgetown does not offer contraceptive devices. H*yas For Choice, a student-run organization unrecognized by the university, is the only campus-based resource for contraceptives.

According to H*yas for Choice Co-President Brinna Ludwig (NHS ’17), Georgetown administration stifles access to sexual health services by prohibiting the sale of condoms in the student-run store Vital Vittles and in nearby Wisemiller’s Grocery and Deli.

“Compared to a lot of the other schools on the Sexual Health Report Card who are actively trying to promote sexual health and well-being, Georgetown is actively deterring sexual health and well-being,” Ludwig said. “A lot of our day-to-day operations are just filling gaps that I believe the university should already be providing for.”

H*yas for Choice Co-President Emily Stephens (SFS ’17) said their organization’s role as the only provider of contraceptives on campus is unique among colleges, which typically have residential advisors provide condoms.

“We’re the only source for contraceptives on campus — free or otherwise — and we’re also the only source of comprehensive sexual health information, so everything from oral contraceptives to places where you can get an abortion,” Stephens said. “That’s completely out of the ordinary for most non-religious schools.”

When H*yas for Choice announced its yearly goals to the Georgetown administration last spring, Stephens said it remained careful to set realistic goals it hoped the university would agree with.

“We aren’t asking them to provide abortions on campus, but these are things that the university can provide: clarity over what they will provide contraceptives for, and create anonymous STI screening,” Stephens said. “Those are things that they have no real reason to not provide other than concerns over cost or just apathy.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson declined to comment on Georgetown’s dip in the Trojan rankings.

Despite frustration with the administration, Stephens said she was hopeful about recent advances in Georgetown’s sexual health services, including hiring a new assistant vice president of student health last March.

“Last spring, the university hired Vince WinklerPrins, who’s been very, very helpful in meeting with us,” Stephens said. “The Student Health Center is hiring a new director this semester, so we’ll see what happens with that.”

 

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