Mizzou Condom Initiative
Over 18 months ago, a fraternity on Mizzou’s campus proposed the idea of providing free sexual education information and simple contraceptives for Missouri students. They had no details mapped out, just an idea. For a few months, the administration of the University held open forums for students and faculty to seek opinions from the masses. I went to many of these forums, listening to other’s opinions and offering my own.
At first, I was opposed to what has since become known as the Condom Initiative. My opposition wasn’t based on any religious beliefs as many of the Initiative protesters were, but rather because I felt that if a college student deemed him or herself responsible enough to engage in sexual intercourse, then they should be responsible enough to obtain proper contraception. Condoms are not overwhelmingly expensive and are sold at every Mizzou Market on campus. They’re also available for free at the student health center with education materials. But I was in a very small minority. The Initiative was very well-received and was soon being presented for support throughout the campuses’ student organizations, mainly MSA and RHA. RHA unanimously voted to support the initiative and as an Executive Board member, representing the best interest of Mizzou’s students, I switched my tune to support the process.
Because the people that I’ve been elected to represent want to see this initiative move forward, I feel that I am obligated to work to make this program come to pass. Therefore, I am working with the Missouri Student Association, Residential Life and the Missouri administration to find a way to make this work logistically and financially. Paying for all the dispensers and products will run up a bill of around $20,000. MSA has pledged to cover half of those costs, and while RHA has not discussed specific numbers within Congress, the Executive Board has tossed around covering half of the remaining costs, leaving $5,000 unaccounted for. We’ve talked about where to procure the remaining funding from and are pretty sure that we can raise the money through individual Hall Governments.
However, regardless of this hardwork by Missouri’s student leaders, obstacles have arisen from the administration, particularly Chancellor Brady Deaton. He has for the most part, simply ignored the students’ wishes and has continually added new stipulations for the project. The latest stipulation requires that the dispensers must be requested by students through their residence halls. Which means I have been tasked with visiting each Hall Government on campus requesting a petition of support from each government. Not an overly difficult task, but certainly a tedious and time-consuming one.
While the support from the student body is overwhelming, the cooperation from the higher-ups has been poor at best, and negligible at worst. Often the student opinion is overlooked by those that think they know better, but this time, the student leaders are not rolling over for the administration, but standing up for the student voices that have been adamant about the implementation of such an initiative.
There is a logistics committee that has formed and is currently meeting to hash out the finer details of the implementation. Another one of the Chancellor’s stipulations is all dispensers must be tamper-proof and placed in areas that will guarantee the privacy of users while limiting exposure to other students. Which means more work for us. We’ll have to find places that meet these requirements. The tampering is something that RHA included in their original resolution of support, so that’s nothing new. I have been working tirelessly with MSA President and Vice President Jim Kelley and Chelsea Johnson to finalize things from the student side of this initiative.
Hopefully, something comes from all this hard work and we can see this plan come to fruition before the beginning of next year. It’s been an arduous process and we’re all looking forward to a resolution.