Like many Catholic institutions, Boston College does not allow for the distribution of any types of birth control on campus, but up until recently they turned a blind eye to an unofficial campus group’s efforts to pass out free condoms to students.
The Boston College Students for Sexual Health, the group in question, has been handing out condoms and sexual health literature on campus since 2009, but in March, Boston College officials fired off a letter to the group telling them that distributing condoms is not congruent with the “values and traditions” of the school.
The school has a firm abstinence-only approach to sex-ed that goes beyond nixing condom freebies. The New York Times points out that on the college’s website, there is a section on sexually transmitted diseases, but there is no mention of any type of birth control, only abstinence.
Vowing to keep handing out condoms, the chair of the student group Lizzie Jekanowski said in her NYT interview, “It harkens to a much deeper Catholic morality of caring for your neighbor — and that’s literally what we’re doing, is caring for our neighbors.” The group hands out thousands of condoms every semester.
Handing out thousands of condoms each semester seems to indicate that there’s a need there. Boston College students are getting it in (as many college students do) and they need not only the right tools, but the right information as well. I understand why the school would shun any official endorsement of birth control options (that in itself is a topic for another day), but at least let knowledgeable, well-meaning people do that work.
When I was in college, my father’s insurance did not cover birth control pills (Ridiculous, no?), so I had to pay for it out of pocket. I was fortunate that my university’s pharmacy offered birth control pills for $7/month. Broke college kid that I was, even I could afford that and free condoms were readily available. I can’t imagine if I had been at a school that didn’t take that approach to sexual health. We can’t wish away pre-marital sex. It happens. It will continue to happen. Give the kids jimmy hats.
What do you think about Boston College’s “just say no” policy when it comes to sex? What was your sex-ed experience at your college?
Demetria Irwin is a New York City-based freelance writer/editor. Follow her on Twitter, @Love_Is_Dope.