FAU’s rank in Trojan’s annual sexual health survey drops 35 places

Since+2009%2C+FAU+has+fallen+from+5th+to+53rd+place+in+Trojan%E2%80%99s+annual+Sexual+Health+Report+Card+rankings.+Not+all+Florida+universities+are+shown%2C+as+Trojan+only+surveys+141+colleges+from+conferences+within+the+BCS+system.+Infographic+by+Tyler+Krome.+Data+from+Trojan.

Since 2009, FAU has fallen from 5th to 53rd place in Trojan’s annual Sexual Health Report Card rankings. Not all Florida universities are shown, as Trojan only surveys 141 colleges from conferences within the BCS system. Infographic by Tyler Krome. Data from Trojan.

Regina Kaza

Since 2009, FAU has fallen from 5th to 53rd place in Trojan’s annual Sexual Health Report Card rankings. Not all Florida universities are shown, as Trojan only surveys 141 colleges from conferences within the BCS system. Infographic by Tyler Krome. Data from Trojan.

FAU’s sexual health is the lowest it’s ever been, according to a yearly report, but it hasn’t gotten worse.

The fifth annual Trojan Sexual Health Report Card ranks universities’ sexual safety based on how much sexual health information and resources they offer. This year FAU dropped to 53rd—down from 18th last year. One hundred forty-one schools were surveyed.

Bert Sperling, the researcher who made the report’s grading scale, told the UP why the university’s ranking took a dive this year. “Lots of universities have made great strides throughout the years and have come to the level that FAU has had in the past, and that’s probably why FAU has taken a serious hit this year.”

Survey categories include access to condoms and contraceptives, HIV/STD testing and other office services like answering questions about sexual health. “Each category is ranked from 0-10,” Sperling said, “Some categories count as half a category, and are compiled into one category. For example, lecture and outreach programs and peer groups count for half a category each, but are combined.”

There was also an extra credit category this year in which FAU got no points. “Dartmouth, for example, has a sexual health blog and weekly emails that get sent out so that assisted them in the rankings this year,” Sperling said.

Student Health Services (SHS) Director Kathy Wallace added, “We haven’t cut back on services and Today and Beyond Wellness (T&BW) hasn’t either.” SHS and T&BW provide STD/HIV testing, sexual education and free contraceptives.

“All our condoms are free, a lot of other schools have to pay for theirs,” said T&BW Director Rosemary Dunbar, who didn’t list other schools. “Last year we gave over 100,000. Now this year we’re giving out even more.” That’s about 11 condoms each hour on average.

According to Dunbar, T&BW had 94 sex ed presentations, which reached 2,500 students this past summer. Those presentations tell students about the services the office offers.

“The university is now watching every dollar for every program and we obviously submit budgets every year outlining our specific funding for specific programs,” said Wallace. SHS funding comes from the Health Fee, which students pay each semester. It’s currently $9.42 per credit hour, or $141.30 for 15 credits, according to the Controller’s Office.

“That fee has been raised. We went for seven years [prior to Fall 2007] where we had no increase in those years in our funding. That kept us static, but we certainly have been successful and offering testing and information.” The fee was $5/credit hour back then.

Dunbar believes that funding is what’s keeping FAU from reaching the top again. “We’d have to put more money in. With the current level of programs, this is where we’re going to stay.”

Wallace, however, thinks raising the health fee won’t be enough to raise FAU’s sexual health scores. “I’m not sure the student health fee would increase funding. I think we need to put our heads together and be creative with the funding we do have.”

FAU ranked 5th in 2009, 18th in 2008 and 22nd in 2007. It didn’t rank in the years prior.

FIU dropped from a 49th last year to 76th, while UF increased from 17th to 8th. Columbia University retained their 1st place status from last year.

[Allison Nielsen and Chris Persaud contributed to the reporting of this story.]