Pomona College resident advisors launched a “Sexual Health Mailbox Program” this month, allowing students to have items like condoms, personal lubricant and dental dams delivered directly to their mailboxes.
Pomona’s RAs, led by Allie Pitchon PO ’20, created an anonymous online survey for students to sign up for the service at the beginning of February. Students who filled out the survey by Feb. 21 will receive their first bags in their mailboxes on Feb. 28, Pitchon said.
“I think for me at least a lot of the time there’s this kind of disconnect between resources available on campus and students. … They’re not always super easily accessible to students or students aren’t always reminded of them,” Pitchon said. “The sexual health program [is] a way to facilitate a better connection between students and the resources.”
The deliveries will take place on a monthly basis, and will be “more customizable” in the future, including options for latex-free and different-sized condoms or dental dams, Pitchon said.
“And if this works, we’re hoping to see if we can do a similar thing with menstrual products,” she added.
The Health Education Outreach office currently offers sexual health supplies to RAs, which they can distribute to students in their halls, and students can also collect them for free from HEO. SHS also offers some sexual health supplies. But Pitchon said that students do not always make use of these resources.
“A lot of times either these bags that are hung up in residence halls disappear, or students are too embarrassed, especially the first-years, to go to the halls and grab them,” she said. “So, we were thinking, having students be able to request that they be placed directly into their mailbox kind of helps eliminate those difficulties between the students and the resources available.”
Students, like Oliver Eagan PO ’23, attested to feeling uncomfortable going to HEO or SHS to pick up supplies.
“I go to Student Health Services, and I can tell you … that it is always awkward to walk in there and grab whatever I’m grabbing and have like four people look at me,” Eagan said.
Ethan Collins PO ’23 agreed, saying he thinks the new program “could be useful” because there’s “maybe some embarrassment that people have about [HEO].”
The RAs also hope to help dispel stigmas around sexual health.
“A lot of people come from high school where, you know, they never talked about sex or sexual health, and then suddenly they come here, and kind of, there’s this culture shock,” Pitchon said. “So I think it’s just important to have this conversation and to normalize it.”
Eagan agreed that the transition between high school and college doesn’t always facilitate discussions of safe sex.
“A good portion of us are teenagers fresh out of high school, there will still be the kind of giggling in the locker room moment, you know, when you think of the idea that another person is sexually active,” he said.
For future installments, the RAs are hoping to coordinate with Planned Parenthood at the Claremont Colleges in order to increase publicity efforts, and may also coordinate with HEO, Pitchon said.