WKU goes down on sexual health ratings

Tyler Prochazka

When it comes to sexual health, WKU is just going through the motions.

The Trojan 2012 Sexual Health Report Card ranked WKU at 59 in sexual health initiatives, a drop of 12 from 47 in 2011.


The report, which included 141 “major campuses” across the United States, ranks schools based on several factors from contraceptive availability on campus to sexual health peer groups.

Bert Sperling, president of Sperling’s BestPlaces — the company that conducted the survey — said the drop was not cause for concern for WKU.

He said while WKU experienced a drop in the rankings, the program at WKU has not actually declined in quality.

“Everybody is moving toward the goal, but some schools are making improvements faster,” Sperling said.

WKU got its top scores in several areas.

The free condoms available at Health Services earned WKU an “A,” and the Well-U program, which incentivizes “preventative care” like getting tested at Health Services for HIV, earned an “A” in extra-credit.

Other areas that helped WKU earn top scores of at least a “B” were the free monthly HIV testing and accessibility to Health Services. WKU had no grade below a “C” on the report.

“It looks like they are doing a good, solid job,” Sperling said.

However, Sperling said there were some areas that could use improvement at WKU, including STD testing, outreach, sexual assault awareness and the quality of the WKU website with regards to sexual health information.

Kathryn Steward, the assistant director of WKU Health Education, agreed that WKU should improve its website.

“I do think we can beef up our website on sexual health,” Steward said.

According to Steward, WKU is reaching out to students to decide the areas of health that are most pertinent to them.

Steward said a recent report found that 25 percent of WKU students have had no sexual partners and 41 percent have only had one in a 12 month period.

This type of information helps WKU decide how to use its limited funding for health services beyond just sexual health services.

“Our university is very good about trying to identify areas of concern,” Steward said.

When WKU is compared to other universities in the Sun Belt conference for sexual health, WKU ranks “better than average,” according to Sperling.

In state, the University of Kentucky ranks 23 places above WKU, at 36 in the report.

The top schools on the Sexual Health Report were primarily Ivy League schools, with Columbia coming out on top.

Steward said schools that have more funding like Columbia can and should offer more sexual health initiatives for students.

“Money has a big influence in how well a university can rank,” Steward said.

Sperling hopes the report will demonstrate to universities and colleges across the U.S. how they are doing when it comes to sexual health, something they may not be able to know without the report.

“They have no way to compare with other colleges around the country,” Sperling said.

Ultimately, Sperling said he hopes this will motivate schools to continue to improve and for students to get more involved in bettering their sexual health programs.

Some students have already taken the initiative and put pressure on their school administrations to enhance their programs because of the report, he said.

“That helps students be healthy and safe,” Sperling said.