Among ongoing controversy at Boston College over administrators shutting down a condom distribution program, Boston University officials said such programs are important educational tools at BU.
“I would say we are a different institution and I don’t want to speak about Boston College — they can speak for themselves,” said BU spokesman Colin Riley. “Under the director of Student Health Services, Dr. David McBride, he has a robust wellness program and education program and recognizes those particular services as valuable and beneficial to students who desire to have it, to use it.”
Safe Sites, a program created by the BC Students for Sexual Health group in which students can receive free condoms from dormitory rooms around campus, was asked to cease and desist by BC administrators March 15. The administration and student group are set to meet in April.
Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that officials at other Catholic colleges and universities across the U.S., including Georgetown University, the University of Notre Dame and Providence College, said their schools have similar policies on contraceptives,
The March 15 letter sent out to BC students signed by Dean of Students Paul J. Chebator and Director of Residence Life George Arey, detailed the disciplinary issue of distributing condoms.
“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,” the letter stated.
Many students and alumni, as well as Planned Parenthood representatives and the local Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, have voiced their outrage over the Jesuit school’s ban and have made clear their support for the BC Students for Sexual Health.
BU Student Health Services implemented the Condom Fairy service, a program that allows students to sign up online and receive free contraceptives delivered to their dorm rooms, in February.
Student Heath Ambassador Kaanan Shah, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, said BU’s condom program has been successful.
“We have gotten a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “In 2013 it [getting condoms] shouldn’t be a shameful thing on college campuses and I think a lot of people are definitely being more careful about it [sexual health] with the amount of requests they [BU’s condom program] get.”
Student Health Ambassador Jessica Guccione, a Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences senior, said sexual health education on campus is very important.
“Condom distribution is just one aspect of helping encourage safe sex practices,” she said. “By making it easy to learn more about STIs [sexually transmitted infections], get tested and get sexual health supplies, we are hoping that we are making it easier to have safe sex.”
Guccione said she was disappointed with the letter from BC administrators.
“Personally, and from a public health perspective, I think that anything that stands in the way of helping people be and stay healthy is unfortunate,” she said. “This isn’t the first roadblock to sexual health we have seen, though it is something that has frequently been the subject of controversy.”
Guccione said with the opening of the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center in the fall 2012 semester, BU has expanded its spectrum of sexual heath.
“BU thinks of it [condom distribution] more from a health standpoint, I think,” said Guccione. “That being sexually healthy is important to your overall health, just as being emotionally healthy is as well. BC seems to view it differently.”
Stephanie Moses, a CAS sophomore, said she believes the actions of BC’s officials are irresponsible.
“It’s not going to stop people from having sex, so they should just help their students stay safe,” she said.
Brandon Finn, a CAS freshman, said he believes BC officials should be more pragmatic as a Jesuit school.
“I understand the want to promote Catholic values at BC,” he said. “But it is really irresponsible to disregard what the students want and to actually hold that information away from them because they should have access to safe sex materials if they want them.”