At Stonehill, a private Catholic college, in Easton, Massachusetts, senior Katie Freitas was frustrated at her school’s failure to distribute birth control and decided to take matters into her own hands. She and around twenty of her classmates gathered free condoms from family planning agencies and left them in dorms across campus. Their efforts were shut down after the administration heard of their efforts and reiterated that as Stonehill is a Catholic institution, distributing birth control on campus is forbidden.
Freitas is not Catholic and wanted to make sure that condoms were available and accessible because she was worried about the risks of students having unprotected sex. She said:
“Abstinence can be part of sex-ed, and should be. But college students are going to have sex, and they should be encouraged to have safe sex. In certain moments, students aren’t going to stop to run to CVS, so I think they should be available on campus…I expected some resistance, but I think this is a debate that should be out in the open.”
Freitas is absolutely right – if college students are going to have sex, they should be encouraged to have safe sex and they should have the information and resources they need to have safe sex. Abstinence-only sex education has dominated sex education in this country for too long and needless to say, it’s ineffective.
Stonehill is not the only Catholic college/university where there has been student activism concerning issues around sex and sexual health. At Boston College, students just passed a referendum that urged their school to provide access to contraception and affordable testing for sexually transmitted infections. Who knows best about student body’s wants and/or needs, the administration or students? Definitely the students. So if they’re demanding access to sexual health resources, they deserve it.
Yes these institutions may be grounded in Catholicism, but the reality is that not everyone at these institutions are practicing Catholics and college students are going to have sex anyway. It’s in the school’s best interest to provide information and resources about sexual health, such as condoms, birth control, testing for sexually transmitted infections and diseases, etc.