“Have a safe weekend!”
It’s September 2011 and I’m a freshman. I’ve been living on Upper Campus for three weeks, and I walk the path from Upper to McElroy at least three times daily. A couple of smiling upperclassmen are standing at the stairway, passing out quarter sheets. I have a million of those things festering on the shelf in my room in Fenwick for every group from the College Republicans to the Women’s Frisbee Team to some comedy group that I have no intention of joining. Another one won’t hurt. I stuff it in my bag without realizing what it is until my 15-year-old sister comes over and finds it among the other scraps of paper on my desk.
It’s a condom distributed by the BC Students for Sexual Health, and for a little bit of rubber it sure is causing a lot of drama lately.
As you and the entire BC population and my mother and everyone who scanned the headlines of the BBC website today is aware, condoms are a hot topic here at BC. On Sunday night, the administration contacted students distributing condoms out of their rooms to inform them that their behavior was in violation of university policy and they could face disciplinary trouble for their acts, as the distribution of contraceptives directly violates the Catholic mission of our school.
People have been up in arms about this warning and taking sides in this hot debate. But is it possible for both sides of the argument to be right?
I sincerely admire the members of BCSSH. They are dedicated people who have a grasp on the reality of college students’ sexual activity and understand the need for students to engage in safe practices. At this point, I agree with them and I support their mission wholeheartedly. Students who wish to engage in sex should understand how to do so in a safe way and be aware of the resources that are available to them, and BCSSH’s efforts in this field are highly commendable.
But at a certain point, it crosses the line.
This year, BC celebrates its 150th birthday. For 150 years, our university has upheld the best of Catholic teachings, emphasizing the importance of being a whole person and being a man or woman for others. BC’s proud tradition is one that has endured through the ages and is enjoyed by many students on campus, even those students who do not identify as Catholic.
BCSSH’s goal to establish on-campus, university-sponsored contraceptive distribution and STI testing is, unfortunately, contrary to the Catholic mission of BC, and to ask them to allocate funds to programming that conflicts with university policy is disrespectful at best. Condoms are readily available at CityCo and CVS, and the Greater Boston Planned Parenthood is a short ride away on the B Line—these resources are not hard to access if students need them.
For all the flak it gets for its strict rules, the BC administration is fairly reasonable about turning the other cheek to “illegal” on-campus activity. Underage drinking, sexual activity and the sale of those fun Marathon Monday tank tops are banned, but as long as students are subtle they can get away with those things. Advertising the distribution of condoms on a dorm-room door seems to be asking for trouble.
Though I would love to see a day where the BC administration could see eye-to-eye with its forward-thinking students on the subject of sexual health, I don’t see it happening in the near future. I encourage the BCSSH to spend their time and energy not fighting the administration, but rather advising students on issues of sexual health and advocating for safe sex to the best of their abilities. Their presence on-campus and their knowledge is valuable for our community.