Campus and students need to place a bigger emphasis on sexual awareness.
With Sex Week coming to a close, the University of Nevada, Reno and its students will hardly notice its passing in preparation for finals.
However, amid a constantly shifting landscape in relation to sexual awareness, the importance of this week’s events cannot be understated.
Cresting over the 19,000 enrollment mark, UNR has a larger responsibility to protect and educate more students. That being said, it is ultimately up to the students to make themselves aware of the resources available to them. This is especially true for the options available that relate to sexual health, due to the growing number of diseases and sexual assaults in Reno. Sex Week starts the conversation, but issues such as consent and sexual health need to be a more consistent topic of discussion.
In recent years, there has been an increase in sexual diseases transmitted in the state of Nevada and Washoe County, according to the 2012 edition of the Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Numbers for chlamydia outbreaks have risen from 9,670 in 2008 to 11,137 in 2012, and after experiencing a decrease from 2008 to 2011, total reported cases for gonorrhea also increased from 2,172 to 2,264 in 2012. Although the number of syphilis outbreaks in Nevada has decreased, the problem with sexual awareness still exists today.
As such, students need to be aware of these statistics and prepare accordingly. While some may dismiss these numbers as matters that only concern the heavily urbanized southern Nevada area or the rural outliers, this is absolutely not the case. Recent national data from the CDC and Washoe County has revealed that these diseases can affect college students at both the national and local levels.
According to the National College Health Assessment, 50.3 percent of students use condoms during vaginal intercourse, while 55 percent use contraceptives during other types of intercourse.
The 2014 Trojan Sexual Health Report Card (a survey that uses a variety of metrics to rank the sexual health resources available at 140 American universities) ranked UNR in the bottom half of the survey, at 79th overall. The metrics are based off of the level of sexual health resources and information available to students on college campuses. UNR is lagging significantly behind a handful of other western universities.
To offer a comparison, Fresno State was 50th, UNLV was ranked 39th and the University of Oregon came in at 17th. UNR prides itself on being a Tier One institution, but its grade is not very impressive in this area. While this might not be the most prestigious of rankings, it is something of a telltale sign of where the university can make some big improvements.
Students that are apprehensive about getting tested for STD’s also need to know that the health center on campus is a safe place. All of the tests are confidential and appointments can be made ahead of time to ensure you can get in and out efficiently. Also, since your student fees do pay for free admission into the health center and the center offers a variety of free tests, this is a resource that cannot be overlooked. Even if money is still a concern, the clinic offers free testing on Thursdays from 8-10 a.m. This might be a tough time slot to get in for some, but students need to make it a priority to get checked because not doing it could result in harm to themselves and others.
It is also hard to escape the topic of sexual assaults on college campuses. However, there are resources on campus that can curb these events from occurring. In addition to the health center, there is Green Dot training offered to prevent sexual assault on campus and there are classes on becoming a bigger part in Bystander Intervention.
If Nevada is going to make headway in the national picture, it could be a leader in the field of sexual health awareness. With STD and sexual assaults a significant problem, students need to know that education is the proper means for slowing these problems down.
The Nevada Sagebrush Editorial Staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.