It’s NCAA Tournament season and this is North Carolina. If you’re not from here, you just can’t understand the magnitude of what that means. (Our office is smack dab in between Duke and UNC.)
Earlier this evening, I was watching the BYU-Florida game and I commented that I wanted BYU to lose simply because they provide their students with awful sexual health services. Our Teen Health Now member Dan went in depth about BYU’s recent dismissal of their star basketball player for having premarital sex on a recent Amplify blog post.
I started thinking: Which teams in the tournament provide their students with the best sexual health services? Which are the worst? (Or, who invests in the health and safety of students as well as mega athletics programs?) I consulted the 2010 Trojan Sexual Health Report Card to create the rankings. The report ranks college campuses based on measures like availability and ease of access to health services, contraceptives, STD testing, and peer-support services. Columbia, home of the amazing Go Ask Alice! service ranks at the top; University of Idaho was last. (For the record, BYU was next-to-last.)
Here’s my bracket with winners based on quality of student sexual health services:
Final Four: Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State
Winner: Michigan State
PS – Duke (29) outranks Carolina (36) on this scale. Now, roll your eyes and say, “Only in North Carolina…”
After lots of requests, we’ve added a bracket for the NCAA Women’s Tournament. Sorry, UConn ladies: You do not dominate this bracket.
Final Four: Princeton, Ohio St., Iowa, Michigan St.
Winner: Michigan St.
Why did we do this?
This isn’t just a basketball gimmick.
We focus so much of our attention on younger teens. It’s a smart strategy in a prevention agency and in a state where 33% of 9th graders have already had sexual intercourse. Most teen pregnancies, though, happen in older teens.
Unfortunately, we have some pretty gaping holes in our prevention structures. The 2010-11 academic year is the first school year when adolescents in grades 7 through 9 will get medically accurate pregnancy prevention information. That’s an unbelievably important step. After 9th grade, though, most students will not receive any preventative information. That means that a high school junior having sex for the first time will have to recall and use information from 9th grade.
Campus health services are critical. It’s important for students, parents, public health professionals, and – in the case of public universities – taxpayers to make sure these services exist and are strong. Providing easy access to care, educational opportunities, and peer-to-peer support systems are an important tool for helping college students stay healthy and protect their futures. Now, if only we could figure out how to provide the same protective services to our community college students and working older teens…