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Slipping on condoms

After the condom tamperings that occurred at UFV last October, some efforts to provide proper protection to anyone wanting free access to condoms haven’t been followed through with.

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After the condom tamperings that occurred at UFV last October, some efforts to provide proper protection to anyone wanting access to free condoms haven’t yet been followed through with.

Before the tampering incident, condoms were supplied for free in baskets in various public locations around UFV campuses. However, this eventually became problematic.

On Oct. 28, an email warned students, faculty, and staff that condoms in public spaces around UFV may have been tampered with. The Cascade reported on the story Oct. 30 in an article titled “UFV warns students of pin holes found in condoms,” which said that a student saw another student tamping with the condoms in a women’s washroom in the Student Union Building (SUB) on UFV’s Abbotsford campus.

SUS presents incorrect info

Responding to the condom tamperings, SUS said they had already ordered dispensers for condom and feminine hygiene products and would be installing them promptly.

However, condom and feminine hygiene dispensers have still not been purchased or installed in the SUB or anywhere on UFV campuses, contradicting what was said in the press release SUS sent to the CBC, Global News, Chilliwack Times, Abbotsford News, and The Cascade on Oct. 31.

“Our Student Union Society had ordered condom and feminine hygiene dispensers that were to be installed in the Student Union Building washrooms in January 2017. We are currently fast-tracking this project and hope to have these installed as early as late November,” read the press release.

Despite what was said in the release, at a SUB steering committee meeting the following day, SUS and UFV discussed how they would acquire product dispensers for the SUB and UFV.

“SUS is looking into installing feminine hygiene product / condom dispensers in the washrooms; currently obtaining quotes and determining best locations to install dispensers. [SUS president] Sukhi [Brar] asked this committee for advice on where to install and how many.” reads the minutes from the Nov. 1 committee meeting.

Still, no dispensers of any kind have been purchased.

Who’s paying for it?

At the Nov. 1 SUB steering committee meeting, it was decided that the SUS and UFV would work together to find and purchase dispensers. The UFV procurement office was tasked to source out the right kind of units. It was agreed upon that using dispensers made more sense than baskets because it would help to ensure that the condoms could not be tampered with.

With that direction given, it was expected that the dispensers could be purchased and installed by the end of January.

“So the UFV procurement office went and looked at units and pricing and we got an email on Jan. 3,” said Brar.

The email referenced a company that has supplied dispensers to Simon Fraser University, the Vancouver International Airport, and Capilano University. Total cost for the dispensers without product, depending on the particular unit, prices somewhere between $3,450 and $5,000 for all dispensers.

“I don’t know why an email with quotes only found its way to us this semester when this was something that we started talking about Nov. 1,” said Brar.

Much of the delay has come from the difficulty in finding appropriate dispensers. It was noted in the minutes from the Nov. 1 meeting that an important requirement for dispensers would be that they dispense free product. The problem with the dispensers from the recommended company is that they only offer a unit that charges to dispense product. The company has however said they can modify the dispensers to dispense for free but it would void the warranty as they are tampering with their own machines.

Jody Gordon, UFV’s vice president students, who is on the SUB steering committee, said that it hasn’t been easy to find a company that sells product dispensers that don’t require payment for dispensing.

“It is a difficult process in that they’re very specific that they want dispensers that are not coin operated. And that apparently has turned out to be a bit of challenge to find,” said Gordon.

Along with the purchasing delays, conflict around who will pay for the dispensers has developed.

“My understanding is that SUS is paying for the dispensers, the PRLC is supplying the condoms at this point, condoms both internal as well as kind of the traditional condoms, if you will,” said Kyle Baillie, director of student life & development, which encompasses many initiatives including the Peer Resource and Learning Centre (PRLC), which supplied the condoms before the tampering incident.

When UFV first responded to the tampering incident, they agreed to provide funding for the dispensers, according to Brar. Email threads she was apart of suggested that UFV would contribute by assisting in the costs.

“But this was because of all the media attention,” said Brar, referring to the attention the tampered condoms initially received. “What pisses me off, again, and I had been kind of wary of it then too is it’s like ‘yeah, let’s partner,’ and so when Abby News was contacting, when people were contacting it’s like ‘we’re partnering with SUS to do this thing.’”

Brar said that UFV has since suggested that SUS will have to pay for dispensers in the SUB.

“The condoms are currently supplied for free, we’re paying for the shipping to get them here. What else would we pay for, there isn’t any other costs associated,” Baillie said.

But this doesn’t help the SUS, who can already get 10,000 condoms for free every quarter from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, and was looking to get help with funding for the dispensers in the SUB.

Others costs will include purchasing dispensers and the ongoing costs of supplying feminine hygiene products.

Currently, 13 machines are expected to be purchased. As it stands, there will be 10 dual dispensers that dispense both condoms and feminine hygiene products installed in women’s washrooms. Dual dispensers will be installed in the SUB, Baker House (UFV’s student residences) and at the CEP campus in Chilliwack. There will also be three single product dispensers, that will be installed in the SUB.

Gordon said that UFV could pay for two dispensers, they would be the ones installed in Baker House, and at the CEP campus. SUS would have to pay for the 11 dispensers for the SUB.

“For us it doesn’t really help when we’re putting in dispensers to have someone offer to put money towards getting a thing [condoms] that we can already get for free. And I suspect they can get it for free which is why they offered to do that piece to partner,” said Brar.

“If they’re not paying for it, and they’re not adding any value to us doing this, then why did they say let’s partner on this. Because they’re not contributing to any of the cost,” said Brar.

Despite delays, Brar promised that dispensers will be installed.

“What I can commit to 100 per cent is there will be dispenser and there will be free product,” she said.

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