In an effort to help stem the spread of AIDS, vending machines dispensing condoms will be installed in restrooms for men and women in the Student Union at California State University, Northridge, the union's governing board decided.
The 15-member board of student, faculty and administration representatives Monday night unanimously approved the plan, which had been proposed by a student committee.
The student union's board of directors also voted to distribute pamphlets about AIDS at the building's information desk and approved a study of the desirability of conducting an educational program on "safe sex."
Medical authorities have urged use of condoms and other sexual practices to reduce the risk of infection by AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which is spread by body fluids, including blood and semen.
"These are special times," said Dean of Students Edmund Peckham. "There are special needs and special answers. There is a need for the entire student body to be aware of AIDS."
The only opposition to the condom measure came in a letter to the board from Jose A. Hernandez, coordinator of the school's urban studies program.
"Studies have shown that condoms are ineffective about 30 percent of the time," Hernandez wrote. He argued that the university could be exposing itself "to multimillion-dollar lawsuits."
Earlier, the dean had opposed the Student Union vending machines because they would be accessible to anyone on campus, including minors. He had favored dispensers at the Student Health Service.
Condoms are now available at the Student Health Service only by prescription. "You have to be put through the third degree," said board member Marco de la Garza.
The vending machines will be operated on a commission basis and will cost the university nothing, said Lori Pederson, chairwoman of the student committee that originated the proposal.
After three months of operation, the machines will be re-evaluated. Any campus opposition to them will also be taken into account when the board decides whether to retain them, she said.