Putting condoms on a vaguely phallic food shouldn't suffice as a way to teach young adults about sex.
Sex education is a hotly debated topic across the U.S. However, many ASU students may arrive on campus with little-to-no knowledge of reproductive or sexual health, and topics like consent, communication and contraception are not discussed nearly enough.
ASU should require incoming freshmen to take a sex education course upon arriving to college.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization dedicated to sexual and reproductive rights, "Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia mandate education about both sex and HIV; two states mandate sex education alone, and another 12 mandate only HIV education."
Additionally the Guttmacher Institute's page on state laws and policies states that sex education in Arizona is not mandated, and if it is offered it is only required to "be age appropriate."
There is no requirement that the information provided be "medically accurate," or "culturally appropriate or unbiased." In addition there is no requirement that sex education "cannot promote religion."
Sexual education policies leave much of the decision on what to teach students up to the parents. This means that many students coming into ASU from Arizona have incomplete and potentially harmful information, and many incoming freshmen from Arizona may not have discussed or been taught about consent.
If ASU were to offer a course that discussed these topics and gave them the resources to find more information, it would allow for a safer environment for students on campus.
For students who prefer to remain abstinent, learning about consent, communication and healthy sexual practices are skills that can be used later on in their lives as well. Learning how to communicate about sex is a life-long skill, not just one that would benefit people in college.
Michelle Villegas-Gold, a trauma specialist and violence epidemiologist who currently works at ASU, said that, “If you don’t talk to people about how to communicate about sex, whether it’s consent or what you feel comfortable with or want or don’t want before, during or after a sexual encounter, it doesn’t matter if you know the basics of sex education. Students know it’s a good idea to use a condom — that’s not the problem.”
Researchers from Columbia University in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that after incoming students took a "Yes Means Yes" course during orientation, instances showed that they understood the concept of affirmative consent.
ASU does offer STI testing and has provided some online resources for students who are interested, but it is not enough. ASU should actively help its students protect themselves and teach healthy sexual practices.
Ideally, according to Villegas-Gold, “We would start talking to students a lot earlier about consent and healthy practices.”
Students need more than one course to teach them to communicate in a healthy way about sex, but offering a required course at ASU covering these topics is better than the current option — nothing.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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