February 6, 2008
Two HIV/AIDS agencies have offered to distribute condoms and safe-sex information next week at seven Southern Illinois colleges to mark National Condom Awareness Week, Feb. 11-15.
Volunteers from Bethany Place and the Madison County AIDS Program received approval from four colleges; two others did not respond; and one two-year public college declined the offer of condom distribution for fear it might cause offense.
I think were doing it in a very respectful way, exploring smart decision-making, said Tami Eggleston, an associate psychology professor at McKendree University, a United Methodist-affiliated school that welcomed the volunteers. The school is neither paying for the condoms nor distributing them, Eggleston noted.
The volunteers can provide students safe-sex pamphlets at Southwestern Illinois College, but the school would not allow condoms to be passed out. There are likely more appropriate distribution alternatives, Mike Fleming, director of public information and marketing for the campus, wrote in a statement. And we do not think it is in the best interest of our diverse taxpayer community to potentially offend any individuals or groups.
At least they acknowledged that the info needed to be there, said Katie Barnhart, executive director of Bethany Place. Its their choice. We just wanted to offer the services.
Condoms and safe-sex pamphlets both will be provided at Kaskaskia College in Centralia, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Lewis and Clark Community College, and McKendree.