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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Catholic colleges v. public: distributing contraceptives

Boston College Students for Sexual Health is under order to stop passing out condoms to students. (TAYLOR BOURAAD/ THE STATESMAN)
Boston College Students for Sexual Health is under order to stop passing out condoms to students. (TAYLOR BOURAAD/ THE STATESMAN)

While public colleges provide condoms without charge and allow condom distribution, Catholic colleges and universities, including Boston College, have banned students from distributing free condoms on campus.

“Boston College and most Catholic colleges and universities, including Notre Dame, Georgetown, Holy Cross and Providence, do not allow public distribution of condoms on campus because it conflicts with our values as Catholic institutions,” Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said.

Boston College administrators sent a warning letter to Boston College Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH) demanding that the group stop distributing condoms to students on campus. The campus group works toward health education and resources by providing students with information that can help their sexual decision-making.

Dunn said the administration wants the students to respect the university’s Catholic commitments and expects students to follow the university’s code of conduct.

“The code of conduct governs all students at our schools,” Dunn said.

No disciplinary actions have been taken yet, but BCSSH is willing to continue condom distribution on campus nevertheless. It wants condoms to be available and accessible to students regardless of the institution’s religious pathos.

Chelsea Lennox, social chair of BCSSH, insisted the group operates under city ordinances. It distributes condoms on campus in public, and did not know the university would find an issue with that act as the group has been distributing condoms for years.

“If we knew why it was suddenly an issue now, we would have addressed it already,” she said.

BCSSH members want students to have access to free condoms and is not sure why their Safe Sites, or dorm rooms whose occupants give out free condoms, lubricants and other materials, have become an issue, as the group did not receive specific reasoning for the opposition.

Lennox said the group provides condoms to students who are not able to purchase them on campus, and that it “felt the need to step in and provide our peers with the materials and information necessary for them to make smarter decisions, when they have chosen to be sexually active.”

Boston College is coping with the distribution of condoms on campus. According to Lennox, the university’s administration is scheduling multiple meetings to take strides forward.

Public institutions such as Stony Brook University, on the other hand, provide free condoms to students.

The Health Education Office is a part of the New York State HIV Prevention Materials grant. It receives grant-provided materials such as finger cots, dental dams, personal lubricants and condoms and distributes them to students. According to Kathleen Valerio, health educator at the university’s Center for Prevention and Outreach, the office provides these materials to more than 100,000 male and female students.

The costs for condoms are derived from the Student Health Fee.

“We freely distribute upon request. The number of students asking to purchase condoms has dramatically reduced over the past three years,” Valerio said.

The university’s resident assistants and residential hall directors began receiving a large bag containing finger cots, condoms and personal lubricants about three years ago.

“As long as we continue to receive materials at no cost from New York State HIV Prevention, we will continue free distribution of materials received utilizing campus resources,” Valerio said.

Stony Brook’s freshman seminar classes teach first year students about practicing safe sex, birth control, sexual relationships and sexually transmitted infections.  The undergraduate college advisors, who teach the seminars, prepare several in-class activities such as a condom demonstration and an “STI Challenge”, which debunks several myths about sexual intercourse.

Students are encouraged to evaluate their own personal health habits and visit the Student Health Service Pharmacy where they can purchase condoms. Four condoms are sold for a dollar.

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