Yale’s ranking plunged from first to 16th in a survey by Trojan Brand Condoms rating sexual health at colleges nationwide.
The dramatic drop is not because of a spike in shower sex or naked parties. Rather, new criteria used in the survey — accounting for such factors as the availability of condoms and the accessibility of STI testing — changed the composition of Yale’s score, even while University Health Services officials maintain that services have broadened since last year.
“Access to sexual health information and resources, including the school’s [biannual] Sex Week at Yale, continue to be highly rated,” a statement issued by Trojan reads. “However, the school’s lower ranking is a result of the expanded categories and schools considered.”
The University of Minnesota seized the top spot this year, followed by the universities of Wyoming and Washington. In the Ivy League, Yale was outranked by Harvard (10th), the University of Pennsylvania (11th) and Columbia (12th).
Bert Sperling, the president of Sperling BestPlaces, the research firm that conducted the survey for Trojan, said students should not read too much into the drop because the survey itself changed.
“I would not say that Yale’s health services are anything less than what they were last year, which is exceptional,” he said in a phone interview. “The survey just provides a snapshot at any given time, which is very hard to compare across years.”
As part of the new methodology in this year’s survey, which was released last week, each college’s health center was asked to provide information on the programs and services available. Yale UHS failed to respond to that request, Sperling said, which left the researchers to seek out the information themselves online. That lack of information may have been reflected in the lower rankings.
“We had to fall back on the resources and services outlined on the Web site,” Sperling said. “We couldn’t get an inside look at the programs and services offered, so we couldn’t award Yale a ranking perhaps as high as it deserves.”
Director of University Health Services Paul Genecin said he did not know of any such inquiry. UHS policy would not preclude compliance with legitimate survey requests, he said.
Genecin added that any changes in Yale’s sexual health services since last year have been “only to broaden, not to decrease.”
He also noted that Trojan has a commercial motive for sponsoring the survey besides an interest in public health.
“Trojan is doing this as part of a promotion,” Genecin said. “We do give out literally tens of thousands of condoms here.”
Genecin cautioned against framing sexual health as a competition among colleges, emphasizing Yale’s regular collaboration with peer institutions.
“I don’t think Yale has discovered some secret ingredient that the people who are involved in sexual health are not also thinking about at other schools,” he said.
The lowest-ranked colleges were Louisiana Tech University and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.