On Friday, October 3 at 12:30 pm, I handed out condoms on Sproul Plaza,
joined by the lovely Linda Vang. As per usual on Sproul, there were organizations
tabling and crowds of students going to and from classes, although the crowd was
thinner than usual. I roamed around, feeling fairly at ease offering condoms to
random students—a recent development—and within twenty minutes I had handed
out all thirty condoms.
I had handed out condoms and lube during my SHEP shift as well. While
many people would simply pass by or politely decline, many others also accepted
the offer with gusto and fascination. This time on Sproul, the process was harder
and more nuanced than I had expected, short completion time aside. Many more
people declined, shied away, or would simply ignore me. I suspect that said
reactions were partially due to the location; so many people were handing out flyers
and advertising events, I may have been seen as just one more person to avoid (even
if my wares were much more interesting than flyers). Some of the people who
accepted condoms seemed on the fence or unsure what to think; and some people,
I’m happy to say, accepted with enthusiasm.
The defining factor of most of the people who accepted condoms was that
they were male. This didn’t surprise me, although I did wish that more women had
taken the opportunity to procure free birth control.
After all the condoms were gone, a few cases stuck in my mind, cases of both
acceptances and non-acceptances. There was the guy in a muscle shirt, standing
near the Savio Steps and advertising some sort of cream pie-eating entertainment
for the cost of one dollar. He took the offered condom, saying that it was probably
worth a dollar (um, I think it’s worth a little more than that, dude). There was the
group of girls who hurried away from my offer in squealing giggles. In hindsight, I
think they may have been high school students or older middle school students
(woops?). There was the dark-haired guy who smiled at me but then walked away
without saying anything. And there were the two blonde guys who marveled at the
rainbow coloring of the packages.
It was very interesting seeing how people reacted, as well as scoping out
people who seemed more likely to take a condom. The only thing I would have done
different: put the condoms in something cuter than the plastic bag they were packed
into. Linda had hers in a little rounded basket, and she finished before I did!