On March 15, the Boston College administration sent a letter to its student body demanding the end of Safe Sites, spaces on campus providing free contraception and information about sex. Safe Sites, according to the letter, violate the institution’s Catholic principles.
Resistance has since become the overwhelming reaction of the BC student body, with some students continuing to operate Safe Sites out of their dorm rooms. Last week, the college threatened penalties against these students.
The administration’s measures, though seemingly archaic, would do well to ignite re-evaluation of contraception policy at campuses across the nation, including here at USC.
Easy arguments can be made for acknowledging the benefits of the one-night stand and accepting — even celebrating — experimentation. These make for learning experiences. They teach us about our preferences and convictions. Experiential learning is, of course, a foundation of the college experience. Therefore sex is too.
That doesn’t mean, though, that the “Vagina Cupcakes!” cupcake-decorating event that kicked off USC’s Sex Week last month was a particularly effective or progressive step toward healthy, positive sex education. And, closer to the BC scandal, that doesn’t mean every resident advisor needs a beach pail of condoms outside their door, as is the case at USC.
The ability to fornicate shouldn’t be as easy as reaching into a fishbowl and scooping out a handful of Trojans. No, these BC students weren’t so obvious in their attempt to encourage safe sex. But the leaders of more liberal institutions, such as our own, have some self-questioning to do.
With condoms so readily available, the college student doesn’t necessarily think less of sex, but often thinks less about it. Sure, sex carries different emotional ties for every individual. But even those who openly and frequently engage in the activity — and often do so with multiple partners — should be so freewheeling by way of rational journey.
Thus, sex isn’t a thoughtless act. And safe sex isn’t just about protecting oneself from STDs and unwanted children as much as abstinence isn’t just about respecting God’s law.
In the case of Boston College’s administration, the intentions are wrong but the measures are closer to right.
USC administrators need not ban the condom bucket nor forbid the condom as a party favor, but they would be smart to encourage assessment of free contraceptives, for both the givers and the takers.
Limiting the availability of free contraceptives, after all, wouldn’t result in a USC student-child daycare center and won’t create a need for a chlamydia resource center. To think students would be affected in such a way is insulting to the collective intelligence of the student body. And to think even one student would be affected in such a way is insulting to the education practices of the university.
Yet the latter is far more believable because sex, despite being a primary concern of many students, is an area of education the university simply addresses, well, simply.
Doling out condoms en masse might seem to be a helpful preventative measure aimed at lowering student pregnancy rates and protecting students from STDs, but it also prevents any actual introspection about the act of sex and what it means to the emotional safety of the individual.
If you’re too uncomfortable to go out and buy your own contraceptives, what exactly does that say about you and how you feel about the act in which you’re planning to engage?
Boston College has its own, highly debatable convictions about sex, but has now forced its students to acquire their own contraceptives. That’s outrageous, impressive and rewarding indeed, just as sex should be.
Bernard Leed is a senior majoring Narrative Studies.