From Top to Bottom: Harvard Slips in Sexual Report Card

Despite ratings, majority of students say sexual health services are adequate

Harvard students aren’t used to getting anything lower than a 4.0. But the College scored just a 3.2 on the third annual Trojan Sexual Health Report Card, released yesterday.

The survey was sponsored by the makers of Trojan condoms and conducted by Sperling’s BestPlaces, an independent research firm. The report card graded and ranked 139 colleges based on 13 criteria, including sexual assault programs, availability of contraceptives, and student peer groups.

Harvard’s ranking fell from 10th place last year to 25th. Trojan and Sperling’s BestPlaces did not release a breakdown of the College’s score.

“Our philosophy hasn’t changed much in the past two years,” said Sarah Rankin, the director of Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

The view was echoed by Jeanne Mahon, the interim director of the Center of Wellness at University Health Services.

“We still do the same programs as we did before, and they have been successful,” Mahon said.

A significant addition to last year’s methodology was student opinions, collected via Facebook.

“Our data is much more comprehensive because we have over 9,000 student responses,” said Bert Sperling, the president of Sperling’s BestPlaces.

According to Sperling, the overwhelming majority of Harvard students said the sexual health services needed no improvement. 70 percent of students would consider going to the health services for help, a statistic much higher than other schools, Sperling said.

Harvard scored best in the areas of “Lecture/Outreach Programs” and “Availability/Cost of Contraceptives,” and its lowest score was for the absence of an anonymous advice column, according to Sperling.

“Harvard does a good job for its freshmen,” Rankin said. She cited Sex Signals, Saturday Night magazine, and other efforts by OSAPR designed to spread awareness.

“We do our best to facilitate dialogue to prevent sexual assaults. I think we had almost 100 percent attendance at Sex Signals,” Rankin said.

Stanford took first place in the report card, up from 41st place last year, while Dartmouth fell 44 places to 68th, the worst finish out of the Ivies.

Jim Daniels, Trojan’s vice president of marketing, said that the rankings shift from year to year because “it’s not a CDC report.” Daniels said the report card does not consider actual STD statistics, but “it brings students’ voices to administrations.”

“The purpose of our survey,” said Daniels, “is to raise awareness that America is not a sexually healthy country.”