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College campus condoms cause clash
By Liang Qiwen (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-18 01:39

The Guangdong provincial Family Planning Commission has plans to install condom vending machines at universities in eight major provincial cities on a trial base.

The municipalities include Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Huizhou, Zhongshan, Foshan, Jiangmen, and Yangjiang.

Under the concept, a university in each of the city's will be selected to have a vending machine installed on campus to ensure condoms are available to students when they are needed.

Officials are now negotiating with university authorities to decide which schools will be selected, China Daily has learned.

Although documents on co-operation for the actual installation of the machines are not yet ready, debate over the issue of condoms has spouted among university officers and students.

Some strident Guangzhou-based university administrators say they won't permit the machines on their "pure" campuses.

Kong Xiaoming, a publicity department official at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, told China Daily that authorities at the school disapprove of the plans.

Kong said the actions of Guangdong Provincial Family Planning Commission are "making a fuss over a trifle."

According to Kong, most of the students on campus "are very innocent, and there is almost no demand for condoms."

In addition, the installation of the vending machines may create a false impression for some students that university authorities tolerate and tacitly consent to sexual behaviour on campus.

"It maybe a bad influence," Kong said.

Yu Senquan, deputy director of the Scientific and Technological Department of Guangdong Provincial Family Planning Commission, told China Daily that the commission has encountered many difficulties as it spreads information about contraceptive health on college campuses.

They have been negotiating with universities, but so far none has approved the proposal.

In the past, because university authorities disapproved of the commission's plans, it had to install condom machines on walls just outside the university boundaries.

Kong Xiaoming said: "Inside or outside the wall is totally different. The wall inside the campus is under the administration of the university, but the wall outside belongs to society, which is not the school's business."

However, most university students say they welcome the commission's proposal.

"Condoms have been available in the automatic food vending machines on campus all along. But the leaders of the school are now forbidding access to condom-only vending machines," said Mo Xiaoling, a female student at Zhongshan University. "So I am not convinced what they're trying to say."

Guangdong University of Foreign Studies male student Yang Fan said sexual behaviour is more and more popular at universities, and nobody should be ignorant of the fact.

He said the appearance of the condom vending machines will be helpful to promote safe sexual behaviour among students.

"It is a positive thing for education," Yang said.

According to the latest statistics from Guangdong Health Department, the number of HIV carriers there is 4,800. In addition, 172 people have had full-blown, including 40 who have died.

Its numbers place it fourth in the country, following Yunnan, Xinjiang, and Guangxi.

According to sources from Guangdong Family Planning Commission, an international co-operation programme that aims to prevent AIDS and implementing family planning started in Guangdong in January. It is to be completed by June of next year.

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