The Boston College chapter of the American Association of University Professors issued a statement today supporting a group of students who may face discipline from BC for distributing contraceptives out of their dorm rooms.
“While it is the university’s right to distribute or not distribute contraceptives through the student health center, we believe that taking disciplinary action against students for lawful actions undertaken in the privacy of their dorm rooms constitutes an infringement of their rights,” the chapter said in a statement. “The issues regarding sexual health raised by BCSSH are important to the welfare of our students who come from a variety of faith traditions; taking disciplinary action against them on such matters of individual conscience sends the wrong message to the campus community, alumni, and prospective students.”
Boston College officials sent a letter to students on March 15 demanding an end to student-run “Safe Sites,” a network of dorm rooms and other locations where free contraceptives and safe sex information are available.
Students living in the “Safe Sites” were told in the letter that the distribution of condoms is in conflict with their “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”
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.”
On Tuesday, Jack Dunn, a spokesman for BC, said in an e-mailed statement that the students know the public distribution of condoms violates the university’s policies and values.
“As a Jesuit, Catholic University, there are certain Catholic commitments that Boston College is called to uphold. We ask our students to respect these commitments, particularly as they pertain to Catholic social teaching on the sanctity of life,” Dunn wrote in the statement. “We recognize that, as a reflection of society at large, many students do not agree with the Church’s position on these issues. However, we ask those who do not agree to be respectful of our position, and circumspect in their private affairs.”
He also wrote that he hopes the students will “accept our offer to meet with administrators and members of the Jesuit community to discuss this issue in a respectful, constructive format.”
Katherine Landergan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.
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