Carol J. Mulvihill, BSN, RN-C has been Director of Student Health Services at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford since 1974, and is a Fellow of the American College Health Association. Lydia P. Smith, BA, MA, is a Bradford native, a 1994 BA graduate of Pitt-Bradford, and a 1996 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with an MA degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education Administration. She served as a Graduate Assistant in Student Affairs at Pitt-Bradford (1993-95), and is currently employed in Student Affairs at University of Maryland, Eastern Shores.
At the 75th Anniversary meeting of the American College Health Association in Chicago on May 26, 1995, Mulvihill and Smith delivered a presentation about the five Smart Sex programs which they planned and conducted on the Pitt-Bradford campus during 1994-95.
Their program utilizes MTV's Smart Sex video (no longer available from CDC National AIDS Clearing House)shown on big screen, and is followed by group discussion. Both the video and the discussion session deal with prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and sexual decision-making of college students, and feature discussion of all options, including abstinence, secondary virginity, and condom use. All choices are discussed within the context of safety, and information is conveyed in a matter-of-fact, non-preachy and non-judgmental manner. A wide variety of literature and information sheets are available for students.
Student responses to the program were extremely positive. After the first program in October, a resident assistant requested the program for the students in her section. More requests followed, including a program sponsored by the Theta Sorority in April which was open to the campus.
For the ACHA conference, Carol and Lydia's presentation focused specifically on "Integrating Abstinence Education into a Smart Sex Program." Pioneers of abstinence education in the college sector, Smith and Mulvihill developed resources which they used in conjunction with the video and discussion. These include:
Discussion Guideline designed to include and give credibility to abstinence and secondary virginity in the discussion of choices for sexual decision-making.
Fine Lines bookmark which includes noteworthy quotes from the MTV Smart Sex video, including:
Nuggets of Knowledge This Question/Answer discussion tool was designed to convey correct, researched information about STD's, in a student-to-student format.
Taking Steps a handout listing steps to take toward safer decision making about sex. Also included are Robert's Rules of Influence a guideline for being a positive influence within the campus community.
101 Ways to Make Love Without Doing It a brochure containing input from students of Pitt-Bradford: "....Eat ice cream cones together....Create a photo album of each other....Brush each other's hair....Do laundry together on Saturday morning....Send each other a secret valentine in "The Source" (student newspaper)."
Mulvihill says, "Condom was the C-word of the 80's, and Abstinence is the A-word of the 90's. At the ACHA conference, we had an audience of approximately 110 nurses, physicians, and health educators from across the US and Canada who gave us overwhelmingly positive evaluations and responses. It was a tremendous experience. We shared our resources, in addition to brochures from ETR Associates, and some well-written information pieces from Texas A&M, including Taking a Vacation from Sex, Know What You Value, and 101 Ways to Make Love Without Doing It which includes 'have a picnic...go for a moonlight walk...hide a love note where the other will find it...give a foot rub....cook each other's favorite food...'
What do students at Pitt-Bradford say about the Smart Sex program? One said, "This program is so important that it should be a course taught for credit."In another program a student asked,"Secondary virginity...what's that? Is that like saying you're a born-again virgin?"One student wrote on an evaluation, " I liked the discussion, especially the views about abstinence and secondary virginity--unusual but great!" In another program, a student shared about her choice of secondary virginity and the reasons she made her decision. Another student said, "The handouts were excellent. People took at least one of everything and were discussing them afterward. We went back to the dorm and talked about all 101 ways to make love without doing it!"
At each program, a pre-survey and post-survey were administered, to give us information about attitudes, knowledge of STD prevention, and behaviors. In the post-survey administered after the fifth Smart Sex program, 50% of students surveyed said they would be willing to choose abstinence or secondary virginity as a personal choice for smart sex. In the fourth program (presented to a group of Resident Assistants who are campus leaders), 85% said they would choose abstinence or secondary virginity. These results reflect an attitude of acceptance and acknowledgement of the value of the those choices.
Mulvihill explains, "We give students correct, factual information and create a non-judgmental environment to discuss choices. Thus we empower them to make smart choices for their own personal health and safety. That's education... not telling students what to think or what to do...but rather, creating an environment for them to think, discuss, and discover a variety of options and the risks/safety of each, enabling them to make wise decisions."
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