Sex, God and UAF
By Jeremia Schrock
Sex is, and always has been, political.
In the early twentieth century, condoms and other forms of birth control were branded as illegal. Some states even continued to ban birth control well into the 1970’s. While the country has moved sex into a new century, the hostility toward sex and prophylactics has lingered well into our own generation. It is also something almost every UAF student will have to face during their college years.
“The entire issue of sexuality has been politicized at UAF, but it’s subtle,” wrote Sine Anahita, an assistant professor in UAF’s sociology department, in an email interview. A few years ago, Anahita and another faculty member had attempted to design a correspondence course on human sexualities. However, the Center for Distance Education (CDE) turned them down. “The head instructional designer at the time refused to work with us on the design of the course because of its topic,” Anahita wrote. “Luckily, several other instructional designers were willing to work with me, and eventually it became a course.” That course became known as SOC/WMS 333: Human Sexualities Across Cultures and is offered online every semester and in class every other fall.
While the idea that sex and college students go hand-in-hand is common, not every student is as geared-up for sex as they may seem. During the 2008/2009 term, a bill (SB 172-016) was introduced into the ASUAF senate that would have allocated $300 to “to purchase condoms and dental dams with ASUAF logo packaging with the intent of distributing them in [the] ASUAF office.” After an extensive senate battle, the bill was defeated by a one-vote margin (6 in favor, 7 against). Current ASUAF President Nicole Carvajal (then a senator) was one of the six legislators who supported the measure while Vice President Mari Freitag voted against it.
Despite the bill’s defeat on the senate floor, then-Senate Chair Jennifer Chambers used money from the Executive Contingency fund to purchase the condoms anyway. Chambers’ original intention was to use them as promotional items for ASUAF, but also felt that providing condoms would be a public service. “I think it’s important that people have access to those items,” she added.
Why did the bill fail? Chambers feels religious beliefs were partially to blame. “I think the way some people voted was based on that fact.” Currently, neither Chambers nor ASUAF have any plans to restock their condom supply. “We haven’t bought any since that time. I don’t know what would happen if we tried to get money for that again.”
The Catholic Church, represented at UAF by Catholic Campus Ministries, exemplifies those beliefs. The Church recently reversed it’s absolute ban on the use of condoms, saying that condom use should be judged on a case-by-case basis, adding that it is acceptable to use said prophylactic only when the alternative may result in infection by the AIDS virus. The Church has tailored its doctrine primarily in response to the continuing AIDS crisis in Africa.
The good news is that UAF appears to be a relatively clean campus, sexually speaking. Not a single case of HIV has been reported at UAF, according to BJ Aldrich, the Director of Student Health and Counseling at the UAF Health Center. UAF also has low rates of herpes, genital warts and gonorrhea with the most prevalent STD on campus being Chlamydia. The Health Center currently provides emergency contraception (like Plan B) and condoms to the student population.
“I am definitely an advocate for sexual awareness,” says Anahita. She is, I am and we think you should be too.