Condoms? Not For Our Students, Says Boston College

For passing out condoms, students at Boston College could face disciplinary action. Earlier this month, university officials sent a letter to students who are part of a group called Safe Sites, which has 18 locations (almost all in student dorms) that provide free condoms, lubricants and pamphlets about sexual health.

Boston College has been aware of the Safe Sites program for two years, according to Lizzie Jekanowski, the chair of Boston College Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH) which runs Safe Sites. While the Safe Sites program has been in place for two years, BC only took action this month. In their letter, Dean of Students Paul Chebator and the Director of Residence Life, George Arey, told the students they could face disciplinary action as the Safe Sites program’s activities conflict with the “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”

BC spokesman, Jack Dunn, says that the students have “repeatedly failed to heed warnings about the condom giveaway as incongruent with the Jesuit Catholic values of Boston College.” Other Catholic universities, including the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University, have said that they too have policies that ban students from distributing condoms on campus and that students could face disciplinary action for doing so.  Victor Nakas, a spokesperson for Catholic University of America, said simply to the Boston Globe that “one of the teachings of our faith is that contraception is morally unacceptable. Since condoms are a form of contraception, we do not permit their distribution on campus.”

The ACLU Steps In

The Massachusetts ACLU says that the threat of disciplinary action by BC is a potential infringement on the students’ civil rights. The ACLU may indeed take legal action: just because the school is a private institution does not give it the right to, in effect, do whatever it wants. In the Boston Globe, Sarah Wunsch, staff lawyer at the ­ACLU of Massachusetts, cites the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act of 1979, which does not allow private and public entities to interfere with an individual’s civil rights.

BC and other Catholic universities indeed note that the prohibition against students handing out condoms on campus is “not specifically outlined in a written policy.” But they claim that “student groups are well aware that they are prohibited from distributing birth control on campus” because such an activity runs “counter to Catholic beliefs.”

Boston College Putting Belief Over Civil Rights

The issue of access to contraception at Catholic institutions of higher learning arose last year after some schools spoke out against the health care law, under which most employers must cover contraceptives as part of their health plans. Catholic bishops and other Catholic officials sought to frame the birth control benefit as one of government infringing on their religious beliefs.

BC and other Catholic schools are trying to do the same about the distribution of condoms on campuses. The Boston Globe cites Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, who invokes the principles of Catholic doctrine, specifically Pope John Paul II’s 1990 Ex Corde Ecclesiae and a “U.S.-specific interpretation of that document” that ­the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued in 2001.

What the condom distribution dispute really illustrates is how “official doctrine” can say one thing but people, including Catholics — in full awareness of their civil rights — do what they do. National surveys indicate that most Catholics consider the use of contraception to be “morally acceptable.” In fact, as Bridgette Dunlap has written on RH Reality Check, Catholic universities were for contraception before they opposed it:

From 1963 to 1967 Notre Dame held an annual “Conference on Population.” The conference, organized with the help of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was intended from its inception to be a forum to develop a more liberal Catholic position on contraception. In 1965, thirty-seven scholars who attended the conference sent a statement to the Pope that declared “[t]here is dependable evidence that contraception is not intrinsically immoral, and that therefore there are certain circumstances in which it may be permitted or indeed even recommended.”

Dunlap points out that no one less than Notre Dame’s President, Father Theodore Hesburgh, later requested that his friend, John D. Rockefeller, hold “a secret meeting with the Pope to discuss the problem of overpopulation.”

As Jekanowski puts it, plain and simple, “People are having sex on campus both at BC and at other Catholic schools. Catholics and non-Catholics alike need access to this information to make the best decisions for their health.”


Related Care2 Coverage

House Republicans Promise to Save Country From the Pill

Oklahoma May Deny Women Affordable Birth Control Because It Poisons Their Bodies

UN Declares Birth Control Is A Universal Human Right

Photo from Thinkstock


Sabrina I.
Past Member 2 years ago


Cheryl L.
Cheryl L.3 years ago

Maya d.: ----- Your argument is childish and worthless AND unscientific. Haven't you read that just having too much sex can also cause cancer in women? Geeez. There's no end to the lack of scientific and biologic knowledge in this country. If we let people like you continue spreading this false information (like allowing doctors to say that abortion causes cancer), we will (and are) fast turning into a Third World Country where women will have to go back to using coat hangers. People are just so ignorant to the FACT that abortions have always happened ... it's just that they didn't "happen" SAFELY. And my choice would be PRO-CHOICE but PREFERABLY that women could PREVENT pregnancy rather than have to resort to abortion after the fact.

Nancy Reagans program to end drug usage "JUST SAY NO" ... how well did that go? Seems to me this country still has a serious drug problem. How about all the states that have an "abstinence only" program for students and teens? They DO, OF COURSE, have the HIGHEST RATES OF TEEN PREGNANCIES in America. You make cutesy little quotes which show how naive' you really are. "Just focus on studies". Get real. People don't stop being human because they go to school. And the majority of time, human nature and sexual urges will win out over people's best intentions. It's just plain stupid to think young people are going to abstain.

Cheryl L.
Cheryl L.3 years ago

It's time for the Catholic Church and the institutions that are run by them (hospitals, schools and colleges) to start using some common sense. Going to Mass yesterday (and every other Sunday) at 10:00 a.m., I found myself looking around a half-empty church. Politicians/religious leaders continue making accusations and threats, etc. regarding our biological choices and common sense strategies to limit our family sizes. Everyone (and ESPECIALLY POLITICIANS) has got their nose up women's uteri instead of focusing on the real problems of our nation. Morality isn't going to bring more jobs to our country and the cheating rich and corporations aren't going to start paying their fair share of taxes or stop hiding their money overseas because of what women are doing with their bodies. The Catholic Church is having to close churches and combine congregations, there's a serious lack of priests and nuns, and they cling to the idea they're going to remain celibate, not abuse children sexually, prevent women from using birth control and still expand membership in the Catholic Faith??? What do they think is going to happen to girls in Catholic College that become pregnant because of the schools ignorance and refusal to allow sex education and birth control? They will lose paying students just like the churches.

Also, if the church is serious about preventing abortion, they first need to come into the present and allow people to prevent untimely pregnancy. "Just saying NO" is

Daniel S.
Daniel S.3 years ago

@Mother Theresa: If there weren't too many children than why was her good work necessary?

Daniel S.
Daniel S.3 years ago

What I can't figure, is why anyone would want to attend a private college where the official belief is that "contraception is morally unacceptable." That belief being the "infallible" opinion of an alleged celibate, based on discussion of a 3000 year old misunderstanding of how biological reproduction actually works. Unless, of course, you fully concur in that belief system, in which case, why are you having sex, and handing out condoms on campus? If, on the other hand, you aren't buying the belief system, than why aren't you transferring to a better college? One that has an up to date curricula, and the institutional values aren't in conflict with science and common sense.

Mary B.
Mary B.3 years ago

Maya d......on this thread you talk about HIV/Aids and condoms being no more than sexual toys.......It is that ignorance that spreads disease and causes pregnancy and perhaps abortion and/or unwanted, unloved children......what century are you living in?

Heather G.
Heather G.3 years ago

So Maya, if a woman is using contraception, such as birth control pills, having sex with her own husband doesn't cause a union between them??? That is ridiculous.

And re: too many children. There really is a limit to how many children a couple can emotionally and financially afford to properly take care of. Children are NOT flowers that bloom for a short time and then fade away.

Maya d.
Past Member 3 years ago

@Melania The Catholic Church believes that according to the Bible, the only reason for sex is to procreate.

Sex must be both unitive and procreative. Contraception is neither of these. They can even lead to CANCER!

Condoms are no more than sexual toys.

The Catholic Church does however endorse NFP. Why should Boston go against there belifes and allow the distribution of condoms at the dorms? Can't they use NFP?

The students should rather forget sex and focus on their studies.

Ghandi once said "As it is, man has sufficiently degraded her for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her."

For a non-religious argument AGAINST contraception kindly visit

Maya d.
Past Member 3 years ago

@Cindy L. The over population theory is a myth--the world's population can all fit in Texas.

"How can you say there is too many children? That's like saying there are too many flowers".--Mother Teresa.

"... That's like saying there are too many doughuts!"--Homer Simpson

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson3 years ago

When I was young, men were expected to go to a drugstore and purchase their own safes. Surely they are still capable of doing this and women are still capable of saying no to unsafe sex.