CHESTNUT HILL (CBS) – They believe they are providing an important resource at Boston College, but a group of students is being threatened with disciplinary action if they don’t stop distributing free condoms on campus.
The Boston College Students for Sexual Health is not a club recognized by the school, but members have set up a network of “safe sites” in dorm rooms and one off-campus apartment where contraceptives and safe sex information are available.
“This is a fundamental student health need,” said Lizzie Jekanowski, a senior and member of the club. “Boston College doesn’t supply comprehensive sexual health information and resources on campus.”
The students received a letter from school officials March 15 saying, “the distribution of condoms on campus is not in concert with the mission of Boston College as a Catholic and Jesuit University.”
Spokesman Jack Dunn said there are certain “Catholic commitments” students are asked to uphold in attending Boston College. “I think in this case the actions are misguided. I think they’re being disrespectful to an institution that prides itself on its Jesuit Catholic mission,” said Dunn.
Jekanowski says the Jesuit mission is also about the need “to care for the whole person, whole mind and whole body” and the club’s work is in keeping with that.
Now, the ACLU has threatened to take legal action if BC follows through with its threat of discipline.
“Jack Dunn needs to think about the state’s civil rights act and its applicability to private parties and they should not be threatening students with disciplinary action,” ACLU attorney Sarah Wunsch told WBZ.
“I don’t think the ACLU has standing in this matter,” Dunn said. “As a private institution we reserve the right to set our policies and to hold our students accountable to those policies.”
Members of BCSSH have agreed to meet with administrators on April 29 to try to resolve the dispute. In the meantime, it has sparked a campus debate. “I’m sure many people are sexually active on campus. It seems like a good resource,” one student tells WBZ-TV.
But another said, “It’s a Catholic school. They knew what they were getting into when they signed up to attend here. I think they have to honor that.”
Jekanowski says they won’t be stopped, but administrators say the matter will referred to the student conduct office for disciplinary action if they continue.