Boston College, ACLU clash over condom giveaway

An effort by Boston College administrators to shut down a student-run program to distribute condoms and provide information on safe … Continued

An effort by Boston College administrators to shut down a student-run program to distribute condoms and provide information on safe sex could end up in court, according to Boston media outlets.

School officials sent a letter this month threatening disciplinary action to students behind “Safe Sites,” the network of dorm rooms serving as outlets for condoms, lubricants and other material.

The students were told the effort conflicts with the “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”

The letter was signed by Dean of Students Paul Chebator and George Arey, director of residence life.

“The students have repeatedly ignored warnings,” BC spokesman Jack Dunn told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 on Wednesday (March 27). “The dean sent the letter to the students saying their actions were incongruent with the Jesuit Catholic values of Boston College and asked them to cease in this activity.”

ACLU attorney Sarah Wunsch told WBZ the group may take legal action if the school presses the issue.

“Jack Dunn needs to think about the state’s civil rights act and its applicability to private parties,” Wunsch said. “They should not be threatening students with disciplinary action.”

Dunn, however, was unmoved.

“I don’t think the ACLU has standing in this matter,” he told the radio station. “As a private institution we reserve the right to set our policies and to hold our students accountable to those policies.”

Boston.com reports that Safe Sites are sponsored by the Boston College Students for Sexual Health, a group that works to improve sexual health education and resources. BCSSH is not recognized by the university.

Dunn told Boston.com 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 said in a 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,” the statement said.

Lizzie Jekanowski, chair of BCSSH, told Boston.com 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 — all but one are in dorms — can pick up free male and female condoms, lubricant, and pamphlets about sexual health.

Jekanowski told Boston.com 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 issuing the threatening letters.

“We’ve had a very open relationship and it’s been very positive,” she said. “This letter was very warmongering and threatening.”

(John Bacon writes for USA Today.)

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

  • dellaferrera

    How short-sighted can religious fanatics get?

Read More Articles

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

concert
Why I Want to Be Culturally Evangelical

I’ve lost my faith. Do I have to lose my heritage, too?

shutterstock_37148347
What Is a Saint?

How the diversity of saintly lives reveals multiple paths toward God.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.