Boston College draws support on condom distribution ban

Boston College in Boston Mass Credit Jim McIntosh CC BY 20 CNA US Catholic News 4 2 13 Boston College in Boston, Mass. | Jim McIntosh (CC BY 2.0).

Despite attacks against Boston College for its prohibition of condom distribution on campus, the school says its rules are similar to those of many prominent Catholic universities across the U.S.

"All Catholic colleges and universities have policies that ask students to be respectful of Catholic values," Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn told CNA April 2. "We refer to them as 'Catholic Commitments.'"

"We ask students to understand that we have a unique faith perspective, and when they enroll in our institutions, they should be respectful of our Catholic values," he added.

Dunn said the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities has been "very supportive" of the college. The association believes that the college's policies are "very consistent" with those at Catholic universities throughout the U.S., he explained.

The Boston Globe found similar policies banning on-campus condom distribution at Catholic colleges and universities including the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University and Catholic University of America.

Last month, Boston College told on-campus groups they could face disciplinary action for a condom giveaway project, on the grounds that it violated Catholic values. The student group BC Students for Sexual Health is advertising dorm rooms which provide condoms and "safer sex info," as well as other paraphernalia.

Lizzie Jekanowski, who chairs the group, told the Boston Globe that the administration knew about the distribution project for two years without taking action.

The student group has attracted support from "reproductive rights" groups like the Massachusetts branch of Planned Parenthood.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has threatened to sue the college on the grounds that the student group is engaged in First Amendment-protected free speech. It further argues that the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act of 1979 prohibits both private and public entities from interfering with civil rights.

However, the college's spokesman was dismissive of legal action.

"We're not concerned with the threat of legal action from entities like the ACLU," Dunn said, adding that students living in dorm rooms need to follow the code of conduct that applies to all students.

"We're a private religiously affiliated institution. We reserve the right to set our policies and uphold those policies through our student guide."

He said the controversy concerns "a handful of students who feel very strongly, very passionately about condom distribution."

The college is now trying to engage the group.

"We're hoping that by meeting with them, we can get them to understand our perspective. We're more than willing to listen to their perspective. We understand that students have rights. We understand that students have passions," Dunn said.

"We asked them to understand that as a Catholic college, they need to be respectful of our values," he emphasized.

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