The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Baylor fails and SMU barely passes in sexual health

  Trojan Condom’s “Sexual Health Report Card” revealed strong differences in the treatment of safe sex at Southern Methodist University and Baylor University, two of Texas’s most notable private universities. 

Southern Methodist University ranked 82 out of 141 colleges and universities surveyed, a large jump from last year’s ranking of 91. Baylor University ranked third to last at 138, making it the lowest ranking school in the state of Texas. 

According to Trojan’s website, Sperlings Bestplaces, the independent firm that conducted the research, analyzed data regarding campus health centers and student opinion polls across 13 separate categories including condom and contraceptive availability and cost, STD testing availability, cost and locality, and availability of sexual awareness programs. Each category was assigned a letter grade, and a cumulative GPA was calculated on a four-point scale.

SMU was given a C+ GPA of 2.54. “We have a free basket of condoms sitting in front of the health center,” said Megan Knapp, Health Educator at SMU’s health center.

The health center can also test for STDs any day of the week. Students just need to call and schedule an appointment with any of the physicians who are available every day or the gynecologist who is available twice a week, said Knapp. “We also have free HIV testing every other week on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month.”

Jordan Rutledge, a sophomore CCPA major, believes that the survey ranked SMU lower than was deserved. “I really don’t understand what they are ranking on. I don’t feel SMU should be throwing condoms in the street every Thursday or be yelling with a megaphone up and down the boulevard about free HIV testing. You are a fully capable adult; you don’t need to hold your mom’s hand anymore to go to the doctor,” said Rutledge.

Rutledge says SMU does more than enough by sending out reminder emails about STD and HIV testing and providing on-campus counseling for sexual assault victims. “They let the students make their own personal choices. They allow students to learn from mistakes, we learn best from experience,” she said.

Baylor came up with a failing GPA of 1.54. According to Sharon Stern, Baylor Health Center’s medical director, Baylor does not offer condoms in the health center, free or otherwise. “We are a Baptist mission so we don’t provide anything like that,” said Stern.

“We don’t really have an STD testing clinic, but certainly if the doctors here feel like that is indicated then we will do it,” said Stern. “We don’t have any HIV testing. For a lot of these things we work very closely with the local health department, so if a student came to us for that we could make referrals.”

The sexual health policies at Baylor University are guided by the sexual misconduct policy in the student code of conduct. This policy states that sexuality is a gift from God and lists the purposes of this gift as “the procreation of human life and the uniting and strengthening of the marital bond in self-giving love.”  The policy lists the misuses of the gift as including, “sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication and homosexual acts.”

This portion of the student code of conduct is enforced through the Judicial Affairs Department at Baylor. Reports of sexual misconduct from residential assistants are the most common way that incidents are reported, said David Murdoch, coordinator of judicial affairs.

“There would probably be loss of visitation for a period of time. We ask them to reflect on the incident, and we may ask them to read something and respond to it, they don’t necessarily have to agree with it. The whole idea is redemption and trying to increase student success,” said Murdoch.

“Baylor’s ranking in this sexual-health survey accurately portrays the ignorance of the issue on campus. Sex is a very taboo topic at Baylor. Even if someone did hold a safe sex presentation or forum, they would not do so without being negatively branded by the student body and the administration,” said Christopher Ehmke, a junior engineering major at Baylor, “I would say Baylor is among the least educated schools in the state as it pertains to sex.”

Rice University, another prominent private university in Texas, came in just above SMU with an overall GPA of 2.66 and a ranking of 67. According to the university’s health center’s website, Rice provides STD and HIV testing and will initiate treatment if tests come back positive. The school also provides free condoms, emergency contraception as necessary, and sexual health advice to students.

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