After a successful launch last semester, the Safer Sex Express is expanding to include sexual wellness outreach and menstrual product distribution initiatives.
The program, a collaboration between the university's Women's Center, Office of Wellbeing, Student Health Service and Office of Residence Life and Housing is now open for Fall 2021 orders. The program's goal is to offer free deliveries of condoms and other barrier contraceptives to student P.O. boxes.
The idea for the service was conceived in 2019 by then-sophomore Olivia Thonson, who was a sexual wellness intern in the Women's Center at the time. Thonson created Safer Sex Express with the support of the Women's Center, and later the other departments which comprise the Sexual Health Working Group Committee.
Assistant Director of the Women's Center Erin Adamson is overseeing a menstrual product initiative, which will launch later this semester.
"We're planning to have dispensers installed in different places across campus that are going to have menstrual products and sexual health products [stocked]," Adamson said. "We're trying to go with a [carrier] that's organic and possibly female-owned - we're interviewing different product companies right now and we [should be concluding that process] within the next two weeks or so."
Other initiatives include a collaboration with the university's Health and Exercise Science department to improve the sexual education component of HES 100, the mandatory health course taken by freshmen and incorporate other ideas into the curriculum.
Safer Sex Express is also hosting student events throughout the semester. One such event was Sex Jeopardy, held at Shorty's on Aug. 22. There, participating students were educated through trivia questions surrounding topics such as sexual health, sexually transmitted infections, birth control, sexual pleasure and sex during COVID-19. The first 25 students that walked in the door also received a free pair of Safer Sex Express boxer shortsas well as a goodie bag.
"We really just want to destigmatize the use of [different] types of [contraceptive] products," Adamson said. "Moving forward with the Sexual Health Working Group, we have an educational aim and will be meeting this year to figure out how we want to reach students - whether that's [via a] class or through extracurriculars. We're trying to branch out."
The project was initially launched in early 2020 before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic but was temporarily shut down until its relaunch this past spring.
"This year will be a good testament to our popularity," Adamson said. "As far as last year, there was a lot of interest. We had [around] 40-60 orders a week last semester and I'm excited to see what things look like this semester since we're running at a higher capacity."
Contraceptive options for delivery include male and female condoms, finger condoms - which cover cuts and prevent infections - dental dams, gloves and water-based lubricants. The brands offered are Trojan, Trustex, SKYN, Durex and Satin.
"We want people to be fully informed about their sexual activities and be inclusive [of the student body]," Adamson said.
She continued: "A lot of times, if you're just thinking about external condoms, you're not really thinking about people who are engaging in different kinds of sexual activity, and we want [students] to [have optionality]."
Students are able to order online with a confidential order form, and materials will be discreetly delivered to their P.O. boxes within a week.
Safer Sex Express allows students to try out and learn about new products, increasing their education around consent, contraception and sexual health.