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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sexcapades: Wrap it up

Published: September 3, 2010
Section: Opinions


Last year during Orientation Leader Training they told us that most Sexually Transmitted Diseases are transmitted during the first couple weeks of school. I know I write about STDs a lot, but those types of statistics really scare me.

The first few weeks of school are party-filled. They are before classes and obligations get too heavy, before first-years have really made friends and before everyone has fallen back into their own groups. First-years celebrating their first tastes of freedom mingle with seniors trying to forget that it’s senior year. Alcohol, and other drugs, are often a part of the festivities. As we all know, these two things can combine to make people forget that sex without a condom is not safe, especially if you don’t exactly know the person on the other side.

Recently, I’ve overheard a number of conversations where guys excitedly share stories about meeting girls who for some reason or another are willing to participate in sex without a condom. One of the most common reasons I hear is that the girl is on birth control. But while, yes, birth control certainly performs the duty of preventing pregnancy, it does not protect against the many STDs wandering around on our campus. The first couple of weeks of school, or of a new relationship, are times to be especially careful. We hope that our partners will be respectful of us in the same way that we (hopefully) are of them–refraining from activities that they know will put us at risk, but not all partners are. Particularly if we choose our partners at parties and bars while intoxicated, there is a high risk that they might not know, or share, information about their health, or that they will rush to have sex without first thinking about the consequences.

This week, there was an article in The New York Times discussing the reemergence of the “withdrawal” method as a feasible birth control option. A group of scientists at the Guttmacher Institute decided to study the efficacy of the pull-out method (as it is sometimes called) versus that of condoms, because they felt that the method was under-appreciated. However, they point out again and again that while it may be nearly as effective as condoms in preventing pregnancy, it is not something that can be considered a replacement for condoms, as, for obvious reasons, it does not protect from STDs.

I wonder if there is something we can do, either as a school or just generally, to reduce the number of STDs circulating on campus. Maybe if we stop thinking about condoms as a form of birth control and begin thinking of them more as a protective device, people will reevaluate their choices. Most girls I know insist on condoms not because of pregnancy fears, but instead because the risk of contracting an STD is too high, and too terrifying. The last thing you want to remember from this year is how you felt about getting something in the first few weeks of college.