There’s a major culture clash at Boston College, a Catholic school in Chesnut Hill, Massachusetts, where officials are threatening disciplinary action if students refuse to stop distributing birth control and contraceptives on campus.
Citing theological doctrine as its reasoning, the higher educational facility is doubling down and demanding that a student-run group halt its activities. Currently, BC Students for Sexual Health, a collective of dorm-rooms and campus locations (one pick-up spot is off-campus) is offering students contraceptives and information about safe sex free-of-charge, the Boston Globe reports.
Currently, condoms are available at 18 locations that the sexual health group calls “Safe Sites.”
But on March 15, Boston College officials sent a letter that was signed by the dean of students, Paul J. Chebator, and the director of residence life, George Arey, telling the group that disciplinary action could be in store.
According to a copy shared by the Globe, a portion of the e-mail reads, “While we understand that you may not be intentionally violating university policy, we do need to advise you that should we receive any reports that you are, in fact, distributing condoms on campus, the matter would be referred to the student conduct office for disciplinary action by the university.”
Students who are a part of the group distributing male and female condoms said that they were surprised by the letter, especially considering the claim that the school has known about the program since its 2009 inception.
After the letter was sent, the local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) branch got involved in the spat, threatening legal action over the note. Sarah Wunsch, an attorney for the group’s Massachusetts office, told the Globe that the college may be violating the law.
“I am very disturbed, and the students have rights that are at stake here,” she said. “We’re up to a fight, if they are up for a fight, but we’d rather not fight about this.”
While the students aren’t planning to stop distributing condoms, the school remains clear that the practice violates Catholic teaching. In an e-mail statement Jack Dunn, a spokesperson for Boston College, told the Globe that condom distribution is a violation of university values and policies.
“As a Jesuit, Catholic university, there are certain Catholic commitments that Boston College is called to uphold,” he wrote. “We ask our students to respect these commitments, particularly as they pertain to Catholic social teaching on the sanctity of life.”
And Dunn’s comments in a separate NBC report, helped shed some additional light on the college’s stance:
Dunn said that student distributing contraception had “taken it to a new level,” which prompted the warning after four years of students engaging in the practice. No longer confined to dorm rooms, Dunn said students had become a visible and disruptive presence on campus, handing out condoms in front of churches and on sidewalks.
“Boston College doesn’t care how students handle their private lives. You can have condoms in your room,” he said. “But it has become an attempt to make a mockery out of Catholic values.”
School administrators had also told the Boston College Students for Sexual Health in meetings to stop handing out condoms on campus prior to the email being sent, Dunn said.
Students and administrators will likely meet to discuss these disagreements.
(H/T: Boston College)
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