UI Student Government to launch campaign providing safe sex materials during COVID-19

USG plans to release a campaign next week in collaboration with UI Student Wellness and Student Health about how students can be mindful of sexual health during COVID-19.



Sabine Martin, News Reporter

Having sex in the age of COVID-19 means the potential to catch more than just a sexually transmitted infection.

University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government plans to release a campaign next week in collaboration with UI Student Wellness and Student Health about how students can be mindful of sexual health during a pandemic.

Verona Victoria, USG director of health and safety, said sex isn’t necessarily the first thing on students’ minds.

“I think [the focus on sexual health] got lost in the midst of COVID and the chaos of it because we’re thinking about housing and we’re thinking about basic necessities,” she said.

Hallie Lartius, USG media-relations manager, said the Safer Sex Campaign will be a series of guidebooks, infographics, and other resources for UI students during the pandemic. The guides will discuss future topics including seeking a new sexual partner, maintaining healthy relationships, and what to do if one’s significant other is sick.

“Our first goal is to have his one general guide that explains that COVID isn’t an STD, but it can be transmitted through kissing or even just being with [another person],” Lartius said.

UI Student Wellness is working to find ways to get safer sex supplies to students.

Stephanie Beecher, UI senior behavioral health consultant, said Student Wellness is in charge of distributing safe sex materials in the dorms under normal circumstances.This year, the program gave residence assistants in all dorms safe sex supplies such as male and female condoms, dental dams, and lubricant to provide to students for free.

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“We are trying to figure out ways to push things out to students. Normally at this time, Student Wellness is on campus and in the dorms handing out safer sex supplies,” Beecher said. “The biggest thing is are we meeting our students’ needs right now?”

USG wanted to create resources for students to ignite conversations about safe sex during the ongoing pandemic, Lartius said.

“We want students to know what safe sex looks like in age of COVID and also how to have conversations with their partners about COVID,” she said. “Having conversations with the people that you live with, or if you live with your partner, what does that look like?”

Beecher added that she is working on how to get safer sex supplies to all UI students, both on and off campus.

“We are working on how we get out the word out that we still have safer sex supplies and how can we get them to you any way we can,” she said. “During the time of COVID-19, we are testing out if campus mail can mail [safer sex supplies]? Can we ship it? It is such an interesting time that we are living in.”

Most recently, UI Student Wellness has implemented the ‘Healthy Habit Wagon’, a golf cart that gives out prizes to reward students who adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“Right now, we have a group of peer leaders on golf carts,” Beecher said. “Anything that we can do to positively reinforce positive behaviors.”

Victoria said she feels that student-driven campaigns are an important step for student voices to be heard.

“We understand students best right now,” she said. “We understand the language that they speak. We understand that people don’t read or will read when it comes to certain things and so I think students play a critical role in that.”