With the new school year underway, students are deep in their studies and thoughts of the future, but that does not mean that the students of UC Irvine cannot take time to enjoy themselves. The Center for Study Wellness and Health Promotion (CSWHP) has made it a goal since 2003 to help students find a more affordable way of obtaining contraception, and as of 2012, CSWHP has been giving out condoms to UC Irvine students for free. You heard it here folks, CSWHP only requires an ID to get access to up to 10 free condoms a day; however, giving away condoms is not the only thing CSWHP is good for. Simply put, CSWHP has a lot more to give than people give them credit for.
CSWHP may not have other services as “sexy” as the condom co-op but their other services are just as important — if not more important — than some of their more well-known programs. Since CSWHP’s inception, different types of workshops have been a priority. These workshops, which focus on sexual health, stress and time management, and nutrition to name a few, help to create UCI’s safe environment. For some, these workshops might come through a club and for others, it might be a mandatory consequence of less than honorable actions, like over-drinking. CSWHP offers alcohol education workshops where they invite first-year students and Resident Advisors to gain knowledge on the dangers of excessive drinking.
Similar workshops are held about drugs, both legal and illegal. CSWHP has student peer educators run these workshops but sometimes they are able to get people like Randy Haverson, a motivational speaker and counselor, who speaks about his experience with drug addiction. Workshops taught by Haverson are known to be eye-opening because he is not recounting examples from a PowerPoint or news article, but from experience. These classes are not created to berate or glamourize mind-altering substances, but to educate.
It would be a disservice to CSWHP if the condom co-op is not mentioned. This program is designed to keep the students at UCI safe and free of any sexually transmitted diseases. As mentioned above, the process by which students may obtain free condoms is simple: just come to the office with their student ID. At that point, the student has a couple of options: They can pick up a pre-made 10-pack of condoms that are selected by the staff or they may pick out 10 of their own. Condoms at the CSWHP office come in different shapes and sizes and are not limited to male condoms. In addition to condoms, the office also offers lubrication samples, dental dams for oral sex and feminine products. Some students come into the office thinking that the exchange will be awkward because in high school, practicing safe sex is recommended but almost condemned in a way due to the stigma behind sexual activity in the teenage years. That is also an important aspect of this office — not only making condoms and similar resources accessible but normalizing them so that these exchanges are no different from buying food.
With the popular services also comes the services that may not be as glamorous or even widely known. The CSWHP offers HIV testing. The tests are done using a rapid HIV test, a test that takes a swab of your inner cheek to test whether antibodies that fight HIV are present. Now when it comes to HIV testing, there are two types that the office focuses on: confidential and anonymous. Confidential tests are done with a health professional and your name is attached to the test. Results from the test will, of course, be kept between you and the professional but the results will go on your health record. Anonymous tests are similar in procedure but lack the name attached to the person so no matter the results, only the student taking the test will know.
The three above services only scratch the surface of what the Center for Student Wellness and Health Promotion offers. It is almost a shame that students are not taking advantage of this office because it creates an environment conducive to a safe and healthy lifestyle that too many students are not able to achieve.
Anthony Wovenu is a fourth year public health major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.