Boston College officials are threatening to take disciplinary measures against a group of students who are distributing condoms out of their dorm rooms, calling the act a violation of the university’s mission as a Catholic and Jesuit institution.
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.”
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.
Lizzie Jekanowski, Chair of BCSSH, said that the Safe Sites program fills a need that the university is not providing to its student body. Students who go to any of the 18 locations -- which include one off campus location as well on campus dorms -- can pick up free male and female condoms, lubricant, and pamphlets about sexual health.
Jekanowski said in a phone interview that the administration has been aware of these sites for at least two years and never taken action. She said she was upset that BC officials did not reach out to BCSSH members before sending these letters, and that the group has always been transparent with the administration.
“We were very disappointed that the signatories of the letter never contacted us beforehand,” she said. “We’ve had a very open relationship and it’s been very positive. This letter was very warmongering and threatening.”
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.”
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