A group of students has been distributing contraceptives and information about safe sex in 18 Boston College dorm rooms for two years. But on March 15, the school decided it was time to put an end to the practice, and sent a letter threatening disciplinary action to the safe sex network, dubbed ‘Safe Sites.’ The letter said that the contraception distribution violated their “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”
Boston College itself offers contraception as part of its student health plan, as required by Massachusetts law. But students who run the Safe Sites program can’t follow their school’s precedent, and must discontinue distributing condoms, or face the school’s office of student conduct, the Boston Globe reports:
The letter, signed by Dean of Students Paul J. Chebator and George Arey, director of residence life, says that “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.”
Safe Sites are sponsored by the Boston College Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH), a group that works to improve sexual health education and resources for students at BC. The group is not recognized by the university.
The American Civil Liberties Union has said that it might consider bringing a legal complaint against the University if it chooses to proceed with disciplinary action. They claim the school “may be violating student rights.”
Studies have shown that condom distribution, at least at the High School level, does not increase the amount of intercourse young people have. It does, however, lead to a rise in condom use and thus encourages safe sex practices that not only limit unintentional pregnancies, but also cut down on the amount of sexually transmitted infections — a big problem on college campuses, including Jesuit ones.
Fighting contraception access has been a bit of a hobby horse for religious universities in recent years, particularly with the controversy over the birth control mandate that was a part of Obamacare. One Catholic university is even dropping its student health care coverage altogether to avoid potentially offering contraception to students one day down the line.