A fight over whether to keep condom machines in Ventura County community colleges is scheduled to culminate in a showdown vote tonight as the college district considers a broad revision of its AIDS-education policies.
"I don't think we should be in the condom business," said Trustee Gregory Cole, who wants to remove condom machines at Oxnard and Moorpark colleges, which the current policy allows. "We're involved with education. We're not involved in a social movement to distribute condoms as a method to stop the spread of AIDS."
Student Trustee Jason Henderson, who attends Moorpark College, said he advocates keeping condom machines in the bathrooms but wants the district to maintain them properly.
"I did some investigating, and I found that some of the condoms in the machines were five years old," he said.
While Henderson said he plans to vote to keep condom machines in the colleges, he rejects portions of the revised AIDS policy that relate to education on the grounds that they do not go far enough.
The proposal requires that AIDS education be included in the health course that students must pass to get a degree, but Henderson said it is not specific enough.
"It means the professor can just get up there and say, 'You all know that AIDS is out there. Next topic.' " Henderson wants at least two hours of AIDS education for students and said he was upset that students had no input on the revised policy.
"This is a policy that directly affects the students, and the students were never allowed to give voice to their opinion," he said.
The revision was drafted by the district's Wellness Committee, which contains no students, he said. The committee comprises nurses from the three campus health centers and other district employees. Its version was further revised, Henderson said, by John Tallman, the district's vice chancellor for instruction. Tallman's version is the plan that the board will consider tonight, Henderson said.
Tallman did not return phone calls Monday, but board President Pete Tafoya said he had heard that Tallman was responsible for the most recent changes.
Tafoya said individual campuses should decide whether to have condom machines on campus. "It really becomes a moral issue within the community itself," Tafoya said. "Moorpark may not want the condoms distributed in any form, for example, whereas Ventura might."
Trustee Allan Jacobs said condom machines should be allowed on campuses. However, he supports language in the revised policy that prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars for condom distribution.
"The taxpayers who don't agree with condom distribution shouldn't have to pay for it," he said.
Moorpark and Oxnard colleges now have condom machines in men's and women's restrooms, but Ventura College does not. Students at Moorpark and Ventura colleges can buy condoms at student health centers and student stores.
The district adopted its current policy on AIDS in March, 1988. It advocates safe-sex practices and early testing of individuals in high-risk groups and endorses the placement of condom machines on the three campuses.
In February, the board of trustees decided that the policy should be updated and referred it to the Wellness Committee. The board was dissatisfied with the version that it received in May, and tonight a third version will be considered.