The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

SEX WEEK | Fact or Fable?

STIs and the Importance of Protection
Charlie Gainey
Chase Buzzell ’25 and Rylee Eaton ’25 in the Condom Cab outside of Commons.

Wrap it before you tap it. Don’t be silly, wrap your willy. No glove, no love. Cover your stump before you hump. I’m sure we are all familiar with each of these phrases (well… maybe not the last one). But, have you ever actually thought about why you should practice safe sex?

Bates College, along with most other universities across the country, utilizes consistent marketing strategies to promote safe sex practices. These programs are not just for fun and games, or simply for Bates to seem woke in comparison with the other NESCACs. Although I do have to give props to Bates, Sex Week, without context, is a pretty jarring concept. In reality, these programs provide important and necessary education. 

Most young people believe that Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) don’t affect them. In fact, the CDC mentions how 48% of young people from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey did not use a condom the last time they had sex, likely because they do not understand the risks that are associated with unprotected sex. The CDC has since (in March 2023) compiled and reviewed a data set confirming that almost half of the 20 million reported STIs, in the United States, are among the ages 15-24. These ages make up 61% of chlamydia cases and 42% of gonorrhea cases. Overall, research shows that the highest numbers of STIs are reported among college-aged students. 

In an email conversation with Mary Pols, Bates Communications Office Media Relations Specialist, and Brenna Callahan, the Associate Director of Health Services, The Student was provided insight on STIs at Bates. During Sex Week, Bates Health Services (BHS) works with the Office of Health Education to advertise STI testing services, as well as other educational events. As a part of the Sex Week collaboration, BHS is offering at-home STI testing kits around campus. Pols and Callahan mention that “though the STI testing kits are very visible on campus through this collaboration, we’re [BHS] trying new marketing strategies this year to to raise awareness and increase access to STI testing at BHS”. Overall, these programs, and Sex Week as a whole, emphasizes the importance of getting tested after every unprotected sexual experience with a new partner. 

When seeking an STI test, upon entering Health Services, students do not have to reveal to the front desk why they want an appointment. Instead, students can simply ask to speak to a nurse without giving a reason. Students also have the option to call Health Services at 207-786-6199 or to email at [email protected]. All medical accounts that BHS obtains are protected by HIPPA and cannot be shared with anyone outside of BHS’ staff without written permission.

The testing is efficient: “chlamydia and gonorrhea are tested for simultaneously using either a urine sample or a swab of fluid from the potential infection site”, remarks Pols and Callahan. After the results are collected, students are contacted by the BHS nurses and are recommended to come to Health Services if treatment is needed. Sometimes, students may need to schedule a follow-up appointment with a doctor. You can even bring a friend or other support system to accompany you during your visit. This person is welcome to stay for the duration of the appointment. 

The Office of Health Education provides many of the safe-sex supplies on campus. These include condoms, latex and non-latex, lube, and dental dams, as well as menstrual products such as pads and tampons. These supplies can be found outside the Residence Life and Health Education Office in Chase Hall, in the first floor restroom at BHS, and in the residence hall laundry rooms and common spaces. This week, the Office of Health Education is promoting a new system that allows students to request supplies to be discreetly delivered to their campus mailboxes. Simply go to the Residence Life & Health Education section of the Bates website, scroll down to Sex Week 2024 Schedule, open the drop down, and click on the first link. There you’ll find a google form where you can request your supplies.

I encourage you all to visit the table outside of Commons and pick up some glow-in-the-dark condoms, dental dams, lube, and stickers (think “hydrate & masturbate” and “consent is sexy”). On Thursday 3/14 Public Health Initiative (PHI) will be tabling from 12:00 to 1:00pm. Stop by and you’ll find Sierra Aponte Clarke ‘25 and Kirsten Fahrm’s ‘25 (PHI President) smiling faces and a pile of condoms. Be sure to say hi from The Student, and, finally, stay safe out there ‘cats!

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All comments must have an attached name and email. Please direct comments to the content of the article; attacking writers in any way, shape or form will not be tolerated. Any comments which do not meet these requirements will not be published.
All The Bates Student Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • E

    EmmyMar 15, 2024 at 12:55 PM

    Nice article, Nicola! Informative and awesome 🙂