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Some good sides and bad sides

By Michael Lafleur
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 9, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

ERIC M. JUKELEVICS/Arizona Daily Wildcat Computer engineering freshman Jason Landskron, and psychology and journalism freshman Kristin Sharp share a private moment under the shade of the cacti on the UA Mall. Reports say 81 percent of sexually active UA students are monogamous.

OK, calm down mom and dad.

As throngs of parental types converge on the UA campus this weekend, no doubt numerous students will use just this phrase for, although popular perception dictates that college students engage in numerous unhealthy activities, data indicate the UA campus does not necessarily deserve this stigma.


Student promiscuity is one aspect of UA campus life that does not fit with pop-cultural stereotypes, said Lee Ann Hamilton, a health educator with UA health promotions.

Hamilton said in her time at the University of Arizona she has seen the number of sexually active students decline.

"What I have seen in the 12 years I have been here is that more people are choosing to wait or abstain," she said. "A lot of people ... they're just ... they're fearful."

Hamilton cited a March 1998 a random 1,126-student survey in which 33 percent of the respondents reported never having engaged in vaginal intercourse.

She said 50 percent of the subjects who had sexual intercourse had only known one partner. Out of those students who were sexually active in any way, 19 percent had had multiple partners, she added.

Hamilton mentioned fear of AIDS, unplanned pregnancies, lack of a suitable partner and personal values as reasons for limited sexual activity or abstinence. Of these, lacking a suitable partner was the most common response, she said.

"The tendency is not to be promiscuous," Hamilton said.

Mechanical engineering freshman Jennifer Otteson tended to agree with the survey's findings.

"I would think most people are exclusive," Otteson said.

Erin Prunty, an elementary education junior, was not so sure.

"I think sexual activity is more common than statistics show," Prunty said. "I see people hooking up all the time at parties and bars."

An aspect of the survey that did not receive such reassuring figures was that of condom use, as 55 percent of the men and 42 percent of the women reported using a condom the last time they had sex.

"We'd probably like to see that be higher," Hamilton said, noting that the method used to determine the percentage of UA students using condoms could have led to the relatively low numbers.

"Some people don't report using condoms because they're married or in long-term monogamous relationships," Hamilton said. "Most people, if they're in a relationship with one person, won't use a condom probably."

Only 11 percent of male and female participants said they had experience with an unplanned pregnancy, Hamilton said.

Patti Caldwell, senior vice president of Planned Parenthood, said the largest number of people her Tucson-based organization serves are of college age or just above.

While the organization does not ask about university affiliation, "we know a lot of the people we serve are UA students," Caldwell said.

The majority of students, 91 percent, never had a sexually transmitted disease, Hamilton said. The most commonly reported STD was genital warts.

UA Health Promotions offers educational classes to dorm residents and other students on STDs, condoms and contraception.

"Abstinence is still the 100 percent best policy," Hamilton said.

Sexual assaults

Dan Reilly, a health educator with UA Health Promotions and Services, said 69 percent of UA students surveyed have five or fewer drinks when they party, adding there is a clear connection between sexual assault and binge drinking, he said.

"Somebody who binge drinks is four times more likely to endure unwanted sex," said Matt Sanders, assistant director of the UA Oasis Center.

Reilly noted that when a person has more than five drinks, communication between people is reduced and inhibitions can be left by the wayside.

"Most sexual assaults that happen on college campuses start out as consensual 'hooking up' that progresses to a level where one person becomes uncomfortable," Reilly said. "About 80 percent of guys involved in sexual assaults on campus leave thinking it was consensual."

Sanders added that in his opinion, the risk of being in a situation where binge drinking occurs is part of the college experience.

"Binge drinking has been part of campus culture for a very long time," he said.

For UA students who are sexually assaulted both the Oasis Center and the Tucson Rape Crisis Center are available for assistance and support.

Sgt. Mike Smith of the University of Arizona Police Department said date rapes on campus are not reported enough.

"It seems that this type of victim is reluctant to come forward," Smith said. "There's definitely a lot more happening that don't get reported."

In 1997 six attempted sexual assaults and one actual assault were reported to UAPD.

Michael Lafleur can be reached via e-mail at Michael.Lafleur@wildcat.arizona.edu.

"The mission of the Tucson Rape Crisis Center is to reduce the trauma and incidence of sexual assault by providing treatment and promoting prevention of sexual abuse, incest, molestation and rape," said Bridget Riceci, the executive director of the center.

The rape crisis center's Sexual Assault Resource Service, which offers assistance to victims immediately following a sexual assault, aided 252 people last year.

Of this number, 32 percent were between the ages of 18 and 24 and 39 percent were victims of acquaintance rape.

The UA Oasis Center is similar to the Tucson Rape Crisis Center in that it offers confidential counseling to victims, legal advise and medical referrals.

Sanders said between December 1995 and December 1997 more than 30 cases of rape, the majority of which were acquaintance rape, were reported to the center.

He said 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

"This stuff is more prevalent than we think," Sanders said.

He said victims of acquaintance rape are often hesitant to go to the police because they are aware their ordeal will then become public record. There are other ways to get help that are confidential, however, he said.