Crowds of Westminster College students gathered at the Richer Commons for some stiff competition on Sept. 28.
The 2016 Condom Olympics, presented by Students for Choice and ASW Events, was an afternoon of activities that aimed to engage students in sex education and promote safe sex.
“Our goal is to find creative ways to mobilize supporters and spread information,” said Leah Weisgal, a senior public health major and president of Westminster’s Students for Choice chapter.
Activities included an STI Q&A wheel, dildo ring toss, vagina cornhole and lube taste testing. The shock factor of the items, donated by the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, attracted a sizable crowd of curious students.
“It’s hard to not stop by when you have penises sticking out of a table and vagina cornhole,” Weisgal said.
Two months prior to the 2016 Condom Olympics, the Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCHD) released information showing it received 1,028 reported cases of gonorrhea in 2015—five times higher than the average 200 reported cases per year.
The SLCHD said it’s important for sexually active individuals to be open with their sexual partners and to get tested for STIs frequently, especially after the sharp rise of STI cases.
Many of the new cases are in young, college-aged people, but Stephanie Nagata, the head nurse for Westminster’s Student Health Services (SHS), said the college doesn’t see that reflected in the number of patients it tests.
“I don’t feel we test enough students on campus for STIs,” Nagata said.
Nagata said students who think they may have an STI should get tested immediately. Condoms are also available for students at SHS to help prevent the spread of STIs.
Planned Parenthood also offers STI tests and treatment at low-to-no cost if students feel uncomfortable going to SHS, Weisgal said.
With STI rates on the rise, Ocean Candler, vice president of education for Students for Choice, said awareness and education are key.
“We’re all sexual,” Candler said. “Without talking and without education, there’s going to be some pretty big mistakes, and with sex, there can be some pretty big mistakes.”
Candler said she feels the Condom Olympics provided students the opportunity to loosen up, have fun and break the stigma associated with talking about sex.
Carson Bold, a sophomore who attended the Condom Olympics, said he wished more males had checked out the event rather than passing by and looking away.
“I think guys feel really uncomfortable coming out here, and I don’t think they should,” Bold said.
Carissa Christensen, a student who participated in the 2016 Condom Olympics, also said she thinks stigma surrounds sex.
“I think it’s silly that sex is so taboo in our culture,” Christensen said. “I think that talking about sex doesn’t perpetuate the issue of sex, but it makes sex less unknown. When we talk about sex, then we can ask questions and find things out.”
Christensen approached the STI Q&A Wheel with a wide smile and red cheeks and spun.
The wheel stopped and Weisgal read the question.
“What percentage of men with gonorrhea don’t show symptoms?” she asked.
“50 percent,” Christensen said.
“Nope, it’s 75 percent,” Weisgal said. “Now do you see why sex ed needs to be in schools, people?”