University of Illinois wins Trojan sexual health contest

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The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign overthrew the reigning champion, Columbia University, to take the top spot in the seventh annual Trojan Sexual Health Report Card.

The contest is an annual ranking of campuses based on best-practices promoting sexual health, including student access to resources and information.

U of I climbed from No. 64 in 2010 to No. 2 in 2011 to No. 1 for 2012, by, according to a news release, investing “time and resources to provide their students with exemplary sexual health programming on campus, earning perfect scores in condoms availability, HIV testing, lecture/outreach programs and student peer groups, quality of the sexual health information on the school website, and overall website usability and quality.”

“The Illini fought their way to the top, excelling in almost every category,” said Bert Sperling, president of Sperling's BestPlaces, which worked with Trojan on the scorecard. "From providing quality lecture and outreach programs, to the impressive sexual health information available on the website, the campus serves as an impressive model for schools around the country.”

In the survey, Brown University rose two spots to finish at No. 2. Columbia University finished in third and Princeton University at No. 4, down from third place last year. Newcomer Yale University ranked No. 6, up from 14th place in 2011.

With Illinois' No. 1 ranking, the Big Ten showed sexual health spirit with two other schools in the top 10 rankings: University of Wisconsin went from No. 11 last year to No. 5 and the University of Iowa moved up a spot to No. 8.

Near the bottom of the scorecard were Seton Hall University (No. 132), St. John's University (No. 135), Troy State University-Main Campus (No. 138), and Providence College (No. 139). Chicago State University (No. 137) and Brigham Young University (No. 140) also ranked near, and the U.S. Air Force Academy finished last at No. 141.

What exactly did the survey look at?

Sperling's BestPlaces research firm analyzed 141 major campuses drawn from conferences within the Bowl Championship Series and beyond. The schools include students representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Researchers collected data from student health center representatives, along with secondary research on the centers and students on campus. The centers were graded on services across 11 categories, including the following:

1.  Hours of operation.

2.  Allow drop-ins or require appointments for student scheduling.

3.  Quality of sexual health information and resources on website.

4.  Contraceptive availability – free or at cost.

5.  Condom availability – free or at cost.

6.  HIV testing on-site – On/off campus, cost.

7.  STI testing on-site – On/off campus, cost.

8.  Lecture/outreach programs and student peer groups for sexual health education.

9.  Sexual assault programs, resources or services.

10.  Overall website usability and quality.

11.  Extra credit.

"Schools that did well in this year's Report Card tended to score uniformly high across all categories, while those ranked towards the bottom were less consistent in category grades," said Sperling.