Condom Machines Installed in Houses

Students Complain About Price, Packaging

In Winthrop House a student lost three quarters attempting to buy one. At Leverett House, several women bought one but complained about the packaging. And in Quincy House, students had two different locations to choose from in making their purchase.

Yes, condom dispensers have arrived at Harvard, featuring convenience but high prices. And after a weekend to get accustomed to the novelty of condom dispensers, students say they are still adjusting to the change.

The dispensers, which were installed in campus bathrooms and laundry rooms last Friday, have finally arrived in the houses and the Freshman Union more than six months after the Undergraduate Council first urged house committees consider the machines.

For 75 cents, students can buy an individually packaged LifeStyles lubricated condom in each of the 13 undergraduate houses and the Freshman Union. Quincy House is the only house to have more than one dispenser--its two machines are located in the men's and women's bathrooms.

It could not be determined whether the new condom machines affected sales at local convenience stores where condoms are also sold. But at CVS Pharmacy on Massachusetts Avenue, sales were unusually slow this weekend, an employee said.

More than half of the condom racks at CVS were full on Sunday night. The store normally must restock almost all condoms on Mondays.

But sales were about the same as usual at Store 24, Sage's and Christie's, according to employees at those stores.

Price is one reason why students may choose not to use the newly-installed Harvard condom dispensers--all of the local stores offer substantially lower prices, as well as larger selections.

CVS, which is open until 11 p.m. every night except Sunday, sells three-packs of Trojans for $1.99 and boxes of three dozen for $9.66. The store also offers a pack of three Fourex lambskin condoms for $6.99.

At Store 24, 1438 Mass. Ave., all three-packs sell for $1.99 except LifeStyles Extra Strength, which costs $2.49. Sage's, across the street from Quincy House, sells LifeStyles condoms in 12-packs that range in price from $4.19 to $6.49.

Christie's, which is open all night, offers a wide selection of Trojan condoms. Three latex Trojans cost $1.99; 12 latex condoms are priced at $5.99.

But Harvard's condom dispensers seem to have been holding their own after a weekend in the houses--the novelty effect has not yet worn off.

One group of women who sampled the new machines this weekend expressed doubts about the long-term practicality of the condom dispensers. "Why are they so expensive?," they asked, "We want cheap sex." The

One of the women added that she would pay the extra money "if I was in a desperate situation. But who would run downstairs in the middle?"

One senior woman who tried the houses' offerings criticized the packaging method. "The box is too bulky," she said. "It's hard to be subtle with one of those in your pocket."

Questions also arose about exposing the condom machines to the heat of the laundry rooms. But according to Kristin M. Daly '89, co-director of Peer Contraceptive Counseling, the condoms will not be damaged by the heat. "It wouldn't damage the condoms if they're in the [condom] machine, unless [the machine] was attached to a dryer," she added.