U-Minnesota 10th healthiest in sexual awareness

Doing well at the U but needed at community colleges

OK, this type of ranking might seem trivial, self-serving or flip, especially considering its tone and the fact that the Trojan condom company is behind it. And the recent sexual assault cases at the University of Minnesota might cause one initially to doubt these findings. But considering today’s CNN editorial, it’s worth taking a look.

The University of Minnesota, with a sexual health “GPA” of 3.37, ranks 10th out of 140 higher-education institutions — up from 58th last year according to the annual Trojan survey. It takes into account factors such as a school’s access to health centers and counseling, HIV testing, and, yes, condom availability. (A full list of factors is below.)

For the first time, the Big Ten has the most schools in the Top 10 of the rankings, pushing out the Ivy League.

Other sexually healthy Big Ten schools in the top 10 include Michigan State University (No. 2), Ohio State University (No. 3), University of Michigan (No. 4) and the University of Iowa (No. 6).

But some Midwest schools ranked near the bottom: Chicago State University (No. 137), Marshall University (No. 138), DePaul University (No. 139), Brigham Young University (No. 140) and the University of Idaho (No. 141).

The rankings were based on scores in a dozen categories:

  1. Health center hours of operation
  2. Availability of patient drop-in vs. appointment only
  3. Availability of separate sexual awareness program
  4. Contraceptive availability and cost
  5. Condom availability and cost
  6. HIV testing, cost and locality (on- vs. off-campus)
  7. Other STI testing, cost and locality (on- vs. off-campus)
  8. Availability of anonymous advice via email / newspaper column
  9. Existence of lecture / outreach programs
  10. Existence of student peer groups
  11. Availability of sexual assault programs — (This one might be up to debate at the moment.)
  12. Website usability and functionality

In any case, the need for education in “sexual health” was brought to light today in an editorial on the CNN Web site that suggests that sex education at colleges — in this case community colleges — is important but lacking. Not every college freshman is knowledgeable or disciplined enough to keep sex safe, and many pay the price of having a child and dropping out of school.

The editorial refers to a White House survey leading up to the recent forum on community colleges. A favorite proposal in the survey was to increase education in sexual health.

“Educate students on healthy relationships and family planning,” Heather Thomas wrote, “in order to help community college students finish their education and then plan for a family when the time is right.”

So what do you think? Is the ranking warranted? And is sexual awareness a priority high enough to boost funding?

  • I am happy to see that the U of MN is getting some press for some of the good programs it has–lots of people at the U work very hard to make sure that students have access to a wide range of health services, education, and support. Those are the kinds of things that don't make headlines, but they do make a very big difference in the life of students. Thanks for reporting on this story.