At the start of the semester, the Wellness Resource Center changed its policy regarding the method of purchase it accepts for sexual health products, like condoms and lubricants.
While the WRC still sells condoms for only 10 cents each, it no longer accepts cash payment. Purchases must be made exclusively using Diamond Dollars, Samantha Tatulli, the healthy lifestyles program coordinator, told The Temple News.
The WRC’s new payment system may prevent students from practicing safe sex. According to Planned Parenthood’s website, using a condom during sex is important for preventing both unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STDs.
Previously, students could buy condoms from the WRC with cash after simply showing their OWLcard to the cashier, and transactions were not recorded to a specific student.
Now when a student buys condoms with Diamond Dollars, however, their purchase will be recorded electronically in the Diamond Dollars account section of their TUportal.
Tom Johnson, interim director at the WRC, said nothing about the transaction would reveal that a student purchased condoms through his or her Diamond Dollars account.
“That was something we made sure about when we went to make the switch,” Johnson said. “That it wouldn’t show up as like, ‘condom sale.’”
It is comforting to know my Diamond Dollars account would only read “Wellness Resource Center” and not “condom sale,” but I still think the electronic tracking of the purchases still poses some problems.
If parents see the phrase “Wellness Resource Center” show up on their child’s Diamond Dollars account, they might be concerned for their child’s health and subsequently ask what they spent money on.
Although this phrase is not as blunt as “condom sale” would be, it still has the potential to put students in the uncomfortable situation of explaining what they purchased to their parents. Because of this possible scenario, the WRC’s new system could become a barrier for some students who need birth control products.
Another potential barrier to buying condoms at the WRC is the simple fact that a lot of upperclassmen at Temple do not use Diamond Dollars once they move out of Temple’s residence halls.
As a sophomore who no longer lives on Main Campus, I personally don’t see the need to have Diamond Dollars, since I no longer have a meal plan or pay to do my laundry in a dorm.
John Lucas, a sophomore tourism and hospitality management major, has bought condoms at the WRC before, but was unaware of the change in its purchasing policy.
“That’s kind of annoying,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d use Diamond Dollars again, since I moved out of the dorms.”
In order to buy condoms, students will have to make a transfer to their Diamond Dollars account ahead of time. This slight barrier could lead to some people simply opting not to buy condoms from the WRC, or at all, making safe sex less accessible.
“Some people don’t carry cash, so when we accepted cash you could argue the same thing,” Johnson said. “Every student has a student ID, and therefore has access to Diamond Dollars.”
It’s true any student at Temple has the capability to pay through these means, and the issue of using exclusively one currency is not new. This take on the issue, however, ignores the important upside of paying with cash: the purchase is not recorded and students maintain their privacy.
Lucas said despite the inconvenience of using Diamond Dollars, he will still continue purchasing condoms from the WRC.
“I’ll still go to the Wellness Resource Center,” he said. “It’s just not really ideal.”
I’m worried that others will not follow Lucas’ lead though and take safe sex precautions. Perhaps, they may be embarrassed their parents will see they spent money at the Wellness Resource Center or they will be too inconvenienced to buy the resources they need before they need them.
Making options for safe sex available to students can only be beneficial when students feel comfortable accessing these resources. The WRC’s new Diamond Dollars payment system unfortunately limits this access.
Matthew Keck can be reached at MatthewKeck@temple.edu.