Students may have access to free sexually transmitted disease testing if the Student Health and Counseling Center gains the support of the students and the New Mexico Department of Health.

At an Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Senate (ASUNM) meeting on Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution recommending that SHAC provide free STD testing services for students every two weeks.

According to the resolution, “studies have shown that the cost of sexually transmitted infection testing is a significant barrier for screening and treatment and that lower costs can increase the acceptability of testing treatment.” The resolution also states that “additional emphasis on getting tested may help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections and decrease the complications that arise from infection.”

ASUNM Sen. Julie Lautenschleger said the Women’s Resource Center has provided free STD testing but that because it is offered in the WRC, male students be reluctant to visit the center for testing.

“It doesn’t really seem as legit as if you were to go to the Student Health and Counseling Center,” she said.

Lautenschleger said the resolution would show student support for SHAC providing free STD testing before SHAC asks the Department of Health for support and funding through grants. She said SHAC Director Beverly Kloeppel expressed that student fees should not be used to fund the service.

According to the resolution, the University is ranked 73rd out of 154 schools in the Annual Ranking of Sexual Health Resources at American Colleges and Universities. The resolution also states that 15-to 24-year-olds account for about 50 percent of STD cases in the United States.

“This is just really something that’s necessary because a lot of research illustrates that STIs are a really big problem on college campuses just because of the lifestyles of college-aged people,” Lautenschleger said.

Surcharge exemption
The Senate also unanimously passed a resolution that could make ASUNM exempt from a surcharge on all University spending that is paid to the UNM Foundation, which is responsible for raising, investing and managing private donations to the University.

According to the resolution, all University budgets are taxed 0.25 percent, the money of which goes to the UNM Foundation, and the tax will increase to 0.5 percent in spring 2013. The resolution states that “the implementation of this surcharge decreases the availability of funding to chartered student organizations, thus reducing the quality of their out-of-classroom experiences.”

ASUNM Sen. Isaac Romero said the surcharge takes away money that could be spent on student organizations.

“Any money that is spent is being charged this surcharge,” he said. “This money gets touched multiple times, so essentially it’s being charged at one quarter of 1 percent in more than one instance, so this is exemption from that surcharge.”