Letters of Support

Are you riled up about the BC Students for Sexual Health crackdown? Do you fully support student sexual health? Have you already signed our petition and shared our media appearances, but still want to do more? Write a letter of support for BCSSH! Publicly denounce BC's threats and give us your own personal reasons for sexual health education and resources at Boston College.
Send any letters to info@bcssh.com. Urge others to do the same.

April 3, 2013

Dear Students of Boston College Students for Sexual Health,


   H*yas for Choice proudly stands with BCSSH as it rejects the restrictions that Boston College’s administration has recently attempted to place upon it. There is nothing more disconcerting than seeing one of our peer Jesuit universities unjustly target reproductive rights. In 2013, it is shameful that organizations committed to providing reproductive health resources are still being vilified. One thing must be made clear: BCSSH is not alone. H*yas for Choice is no stranger to being ostracized and attacked by those who strictly adhere to Vatican policies, which misrepresent the beliefs and actions of the majority of Catholics and of the majority of students at both of our institutions.    Despite these attacks, the services that H*yas for Choice and BCSSH provide to our respective campuses are invaluable. The CDC’s 2011 report found that chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea occurred at the highest rate in the 20-24 year old age group. Clearly, preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections at our universities is a cause that should not only be taken on, but one that should be championed and lauded by our administrations. Furthermore, the assumption that college students have no need for this service is baseless. So far this year, H*yas for Choice has successfully distributed approximately 6,000 condoms to a campus containing only 7,500 undergraduate students. Additionally, a study recently done by Washington University in St. Louis concluded that free access to birth control reduces the rate of abortion by 62-78% when compared to the national average. Creating an environment where sexual health is promoted and celebrated should be a fundamental tenet of any university that respects the well-being of its students. We regret that BCSSH is currently operating in such a hostile environment and hope that Boston College’s administration realizes the error in its ways.    While we certainly empathize with your situation, we also wish to share good news with you: It is very possible for a Jesuit institution and reproductive rights group to peacefully coexist. As reflected in our name’s asterisk, H*yas for Choice is not recognized by Georgetown University in any way. However, we have still been able to carry out our mission in accordance with Georgetown’s free speech policy. Although our group is still stigmatized, through Georgetown’s commitment to pluralism, we have gained the right to speak and distribute contraception in free speech zones, organize as a group of students unaffiliated with the university, and tape envelopes containing condoms to our dorm room doors. Georgetown has provided a precedent that Boston College can and should follow.    An article from Boston College’s Office of Mission and Ministry declares, “A Catholic university needs a pluralism of views for its own good health. It achieves its distinctive purpose of promoting the interaction of faith and the varied forms of culture only if the two challenge and transform each other.”  Having an open and honest discussion about sexual health challenges and transforms Catholic teachings for the better. We at H*yas for Choice celebrate Georgetown’s Catholic identity and are proud of our Jesuit heritage. However this statement of support for pluralism is in direct contradiction to the actions that Boston College is taking against BCSSH. For the sake of the integrity of the institution, we hope that the administration of Boston College recognizes their failed commitment to pluralism and ends this senseless discrimination.In solidarity,

H*yas for Choice

April 2, 2013

Advocates for Youth Stands Firmly with Boston College Students for Sexual Health as National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Approaches

Washington, April 2, 2013 – Debra Hauser, Advocates for Youth’s President issued the following statement today in support of Boston College Students for Sexual Health:

“Advocates for Youth stands in solidarity with the courageous youth activists at Boston College as they – along with thousands of their peers on campuses all across this country – fight for the information and tools necessary to protect their health and save their lives.  


It is unconscionable given the consequences of HIV and AIDS that the administrators at Boston College or at any other institution of higher learning would threaten young activists with disciplinary action for providing their peers with the information and tools necessary to take personal responsibility for their sexual health.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 76,000 young people in the United States between the ages of 13 and 24 are living with HIV and AIDS – 60 percent are unaware of their infection. Each and every month, 1,000 new HIV infections occur among young people this age.  


It is time to recognize and uphold the rights of all young people to the sexual health information and services they need to protect their health and save their lives. April 10th, 2013 will mark the first National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. The day provides an opportunity to hold our leaders accountable for prioritizing young people in the nation’s response to HIV and AIDS.  


Decision makers, like those at Boston College, must recognize that it is dangerous and irresponsible to turn a blind eye to the sexual health needs of students. It is misguided to believe that the provision of condoms causes young people to have sex. This is no more the case than umbrellas causing rain.


By age 20, 75 percent of young people have already had sex. Ninety-five percent of all Americans report having had sex before marriage. Thirty years of public health research clearly shows that providing sexual health information and services does not cause young people to have sex sooner or to act irresponsibly. In fact, research shows that sexual health information and services help young people to delay sexual initiation and to use condoms more consistently when they do have sex.   


Advocates for Youth is proud to partner with the student activists at Boston College and on 1,000 other campuses across the U.S. as part of the Great American Condom Campaign, an effort to normalize condom use among sexually active youth on college campuses.  


As we prepare to observe National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, we are also proud of all our tens of thousands of youth with whom we work in support of honest sex education and confidential and affordable sexual health services.  We know that these young people are fighting for real and meaningful change and we stand firmly alongside them.

Stand with Boston College Students for Sexual health by signing this petition.”


April 2, 2013

It may have been said that God expelled us from the garden.


But self determination, our innate gift, is limited only by the institutions of mankind and our individual sense of ethics.

In the case of personal health, the institution has not our permission to prohibit, only to persuade.

All the best,
Arthur Strang
Cambridge, Massachusetts

April 1, 2013

Once again, the Boston College administration has disappointed its students by jeopardizing their health. An underhanded threat of disciplinary action to students that are trying to promote a safe and healthy environment is not only devastatingly disappointing, but it also represents the intolerance of the Boston College administration. Part of the Boston College mission states that “the University regards the contribution of different religious traditions and value systems as essential to the fullness of its intellectual life” (http://www.bc.edu/offices/bylaws/mission.html). Yet, the University constantly denies the voices and actions of students who do not agree with certain Catholic teachings (particularly those related to sex and sexual orientation) and seems to deny those voices that do not match corporate interests. In this denial, the University limits the growth of an intellectual environment and disregards its mission’s commitment to tolerance of non-Catholic traditions.


But beyond the damage done to the intellectual community, there is no excuse for Boston College to limit student access to health services and information regardless of it religious orientation. This statement goes beyond the current tension as Boston College Students for Sexual Health is distributing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection prevention methods and reproductive health information without affiliation to the administration. Yet, this tension opens up a much needed and desired discussion. A University that is committed to the “personal formation of its undergraduate” should not limit its students’ access to healthcare, whether or not that healthcare is sex-related.  If a denial of any type of health resources is part of a University’s core values, something needs to be changed. In this case, maintaining Catholic values is a detriment to the student body, and thus the relevance and importance of this maintenance should be reevaluated. If Boston College’s connection to the Catholic Church is damaging both the intellectual and social environment of the campus, Boston College should perhaps make a decision to adhere to a different type of Catholicism - a more liberal type, for which there is great demand. The signatures in support of BCSSH and its mission are proof in themselves of this desire for change. If this type of behavior continues on the part of the administration, the irrelevance of Catholic social values will only become more evident to Boston College students. However, judging from the blatant disregard the Church has for reproductive rights as human rights, the growing irrelevance of the Church might be just the thing for which we can all thank God.


Kate Boyle

Class of 2014


April 1, 2013

As a firm believer of giving others the knowledge and skills that they need to make healthy decisions that are right for them, I signed this petition in hopes that I could continue to help others and encourage my fellow classmates to support the fundamentals of BCSSH. Health and educated decision making, though personal, is universal, and in a world where ignorance is not bliss, this program is a step towards educating and helping students that seek to make decisions catered to their lifestyle and beliefs. While I understand that BC is a catholic university, the need for condoms is overwhelming and I fully support prioritizing the needs of the students and their decisions to be healthy. This is why I hope that everyone takes the time to sign this position and take a stand for health! 

India DuBois

April 1, 2013

Mr. Chebator and Mr. Arey,

 

I am writing to express my disappointment upon hearing that my alma mater, Boston College, is considering disciplinary action against students involved with the BCSSH initiative.  When I was a student, I remember being frustrated by the lack of information and availability of birth control on campus.  I find it hard to believe that nothing has changed in the thirty years since I graduated.  While I understand BC is a Catholic university, I do not understand why students are prohibited from taking the initiative to provide health services to other students on their own.  They are not asking for funding or sponsorship from the university.

 

While I was a student at BC, my roommate became pregnant and had to leave the university in the middle of sophomore year.  She did not return to BC. Situations such as this can be prevented by groups such as BCSSH.  Surely it is better to have a dorm room with condoms than a university full of pregnant students and STDs?  Keeping the condoms off campus will not prevent students from engaging in sexual activity.

 

For the sake of present and future students, including my daughter who is enrolling in the fall of 2013, please reconsider your opinion on this matter.

 

Thank you,

 

Sharon Dredger

Boston College, Class of 1983

BA, Mathematics

April 1, 2013

To Whom it May Concern:

I am writing in support of the civil rights of the students involved in the BC Students for Sexual Health initiative.  As an attorney, I am appalled that leaders of an academic institution of higher learning are seeking to strip students of their rights to free speech and association.  The timing of your threat to students coincides with the escalation of a nationwide political assault on a variety of issues related to sexuality and individual autonomy.  It appears that you as leaders may cynically be using these well intentioned and courageous students as pawns in a larger campaign aimed at imposing idiosyncratic religious beliefs on non-practicing individuals against their will and without their consent.

Please retract these recent threats against students engaging in community service to help prevent life-threatening diseases.  They deserve to be treated with the dignity and respect to which all persons are entitled, regardless of their religious beliefs.


Very truly yours,


Lynn Stansel, Esq.
April 1, 2013

A recent alumna (Class of 2011), I am proud of the BCSSH and the support it is receiving from current students, alumni, and faculty. It is wonderful to feel a sense of community; although Boston College is not taking a stand to protect the health and well-being of its students in this case, we have a strong and unwavering network committed to the cause.
 
As a founder of BC's H.E.A.L., a support group for survivors of sexual violence, I only wish that BC administration would commit the same dedication to threatening disciplinary action to campus rapists as it is currently doing with advocates of safer sex. I hope the irony is not lost on the past and present BC community. The egregious oversight and lenient attitude towards sexual offenders on campus pales in comparison to the clear and direct message sent to the young men and women aiming to do what BC will not: advocate for the sexual health and well-being of its students. As a Catholic university, BC will not provide safe sex options - must it also discipline students attempting to pick up this slack, and help each other?
 
Ryann Summers
April 1, 2013

We've been in touch with Evan Goldstein from BCSSH about H*yas for Choice supporting them, and we want to do everything we can to show that students at Georgetown stand behind BCSSH. I talked to Evan about HFC writing an open letter of support for BCSSH, so we could certainly look into publishing something like that! Our board meeting is tomorrow night, and we were planning on brainstorming for a letter then and should be able to have it written in the next couple of days. 

I know how to go about getting the letter published in campus newspapers, but I'm not as familiar with navigating the outside press. I would appreciate any help you can offer with that! 

Best,
Haylie Jacobson
VP H*yas for Choice

March 31, 2013
Dear Colleagues,
You've no doubt heard about the flap over the BCSSH condom distribution.  And many of you have probably been contacted by the students looking for support.  But just in case you haven't, please see the email message below.  You can click on the links to see their petition and statement, which I encourage you to sign.  I've also attached two files--one is the recent statement by BCAAUP concerning the disciplinary threat, the other is a BCSSH decal and support message that you can print out and put on your 
door if you're so inclined.  

Best wishes,
Lynn Johnson
March 26, 2013

To the editor:

As a 1972 alumnus, I was heartened to walk the campus yesterday and view the splendid addition of Stokes Hall, the underway renovation of St. Mary's Hall.  Despite the rough winter, the campus looks terrific.  I was disheartened, however, by the Heights article detailing the conflict between Boston College Students for Sexual Health and the BC administration.

In the year 2013, for a college administration to fall back upon the words "the mission of Boston College as a Catholic and Jesuit university" is the type of pure bullshit that today's young people see right through for the outdated and hypocritical blather that it is.  Is it Catholic and Jesuit to promote unwanted pregnancies, which ultimately brought to term bring supposedly precious life into the world on an unwanted basis?  Is it Catholic and Jesuit to expose young adults to potential lethal diseases when our culture bombards them with sexual messages in virtually every possible communications avenue?  Is it Catholic and Jesuit to reflect the ignorance of the Vatican by attemptiing to legislate human sexual behavior when the Holy Mother Church cannot get out of its own way in terms of sexual quandry, scandal and cover-up?

I would have hoped that Boston College's administration would mirror what I have seen at the university since I graduated, long ago and far away.  BC has evolved in so many terrific ways since the days when I was there and administrative stupidity almost made it become UMass at Chestnut Hill.  The threats generated by the administration toward forward-thinking and progressive young people who care about each other is against the mission of Boston College as an educational institution where young people can live and learn safely.  Boston College needs the Vatican, the Catholic Church and yes, even some of the Jesuits like two young people need an unwanted pregnancy, an STD or the necessity of an abortion.  Wake up, BC Administration and leave the kids alone.

Best,

Dr. Phil Bayer

BC '72

March 27, 2013

Statement on Boston College Students for Sexual Health

By BCAAUP Executive Board

The Boston College chapter of the American Association of University Professors is deeply concerned about the university’s recent letters sent to members of the BC Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH) threatening disciplinary action against them for distributing contraceptives in their dorm rooms. While it is the university’s right to distribute or not distribute contraceptives through the student health center, we believe that taking disciplinary action against students for lawful actions undertaken in the privacy of their dorm rooms constitutes an infringement of their rights.  The issues regarding sexual health raised by BCSSH are important to the welfare of our students who come from a variety of faith traditions; taking disciplinary action against them on such matters of individual conscience sends the wrong message to the campus community, alumni, and prospective students.

March 28, 2013

Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts Stands with BC Students for Sexual Health

Says BC administration is irresponsible for restricting sexual health care access

BOSTON— Martha (Marty) Walz, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) President and Chief Executive Officer, issued the following statement today in support of Boston College Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH):

“As the President of the state’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate, and the aunt of two Boston College students, I could not be more proud of BC Students for Sexual Health. Since 2009, these courageous student organizers have stepped up to meet the health care needs of their peers by providing condoms and sexual health information from their dorm rooms. I am extremely disappointed that Boston College administrators are now threatening to impose disciplinary action against these students. Universities, healthcare providers, public health advocates, and young people should be partnering together to keep our communities healthy.

“Birth control is basic health care, no matter where you work or go to school. Access to condoms and sexual health information is necessary for young people to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unintended pregnancy. And with STD rates rising among people under age 25, empowering young women and men to make healthy decisions should be a top priority for all of us.

“BCSSH is part of a growing movement among young people to stand up in support of sexual and reproductive health, sex education, and access to preventive care. Planned Parenthood is proud of its alliance with BCSSH that dates back to its founding; the group is an essential member of our campus organizing program, which includes eight chapters across Massachusetts. We are helping to create the next generation of leaders and activists in support of affordable and accessible health care for women and men.

“Impeding students’ access to the tools and information they need to make smart, healthy decisions is irresponsible and short-sighted on the part of the Boston College administration.”

March 28, 2013

Dear Sirs,

My daughter is proud to be a BC student, proud to be part of a compassionate tradition and community that reaches out to the world in which it resides, proud to be involved with such worthy causes as supporting the health, well-being and dignity of homeless women at The Women's Lunch Place. Because she believes these principles of service and compassion extend to her fellow students, she is also proud to be a part of BC Students for Sexual Health. Boston College is a remarkable institution and part of a great tradition that values and extends compassion to all.

In a world of religious, ideological and political diversity, it isn't necessary or possible to agree with all views. Nor is agreement to a single view what is or should be at issue here. I do believe, though, that institutions such as Boston College, which is rightly proud of its own diversity, should accept and protect the efforts of students who are working to support the health and well-being of other students. I am deeply proud of my daughter and her service to others and believe that she truly reflects the guiding values of Boston College.  

Sincerely,

David Bjerklie

March 29, 2013

Boston College has threatened to take disciplinary action against the student group Boston College Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH) for establishing "Safe Sites" across their campus that provide condoms, lubricant, and information on sexual health and consent to students. The administration's argument is that condom distribution goes against the Jesuit, Catholic tradition of BC. Having graduated from Boston College in 2008, and advocated on this issue as a student and written about it repeatedly since, I find it extremely frustrating that five years later we are still having the same discussion.

Over the years there seems to have been slow-moving but significant progress on this issue. Despite not being funded or officially recognized by the university as a student group, BCSSH has been able to establish a growing presence on campus. Their "Safe Sites" are far more comprehensive and sustainable than the Valentine's Day and Senior Week condom distributions I was a part of as an undergrad. Additionally, in 2009, BCSSSH passed a referendum that would urge the administration to provide contraceptive services and affordable testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Despite the overwhelming student support for this referendum, the school did not change its policies.

There has also been national progress on the provision of contraception by Catholic institutions. Just last year, a new federal requirement was passed that required all Catholic institutions to provide birth control coverage in their employees' health insurance plans providing a glimmer of hope that this provision would be extended to include students. This has yet to happen.

In writing on this issue for a number of years there seem to be three counter-arguments that are the most popularly cited and continue to halt progress.

1. Students are more than capable of going elsewhere to obtain contraceptive services and sexual health information.

In this instance, the students of BCSSH did just that. In the face of being denied services from their administration, they sought out and successfully obtained funding and resources from Advocates for Youth, The Great American Condom Campaign, and the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. While many of their Safe Sites are located on campus, the services they provide are funded entirely elsewhere. Refusing to provide comprehensive sexual health and contraceptive services is nothing new for Catholic universities, but denying students of their ability to exercise their own resourcefulness to access these services all together is a new extreme.

2. Students are already informed on sexual health.

While students may in fact be well informed of how children are conceived, many did not receive adequate sexual health education prior to attending college, and even among those who did there is no guarantee that, that will translate into safe sex practices. In the sexually active and alcohol infused environment that exists on college campuses nation-wide, discussions of safe sex, contraception, STIs, and the meaning of consent go hand-in-hand.

If the recent Steubenville trial and the overwhelmingly victim-blaming tone of its coverage is any of indication our national understanding of sexual consent, it is deeply troubling how far we have to go. By placing a ban on the only space that exists on campus to have these discussions and obtain these services BC is not only denying students of their right to health but putting their safety largely at risk.

3. Students distributing condoms do so against the universities values as a Catholic institution.

By far the most common counter-argument is the one offered by the administration's letter and furthered by University spokesman Jack Dunn, when he stated, "As a Jesuit university, there are certain Catholic commitments that we are called to uphold." Dunn continued, "All we ask of our students is that they respect these commitments and the values upon which they are founded."

Being sexually active and wanting to be informed and safe while doing so does not eliminate all respect that students have for the "commitments and values" of the Jesuit institution they opted to attend. Many students do respect the values of the Jesuit tradition and demonstrate that in their commitment to service, their community, and each other throughout their time at BC and well after. While it may be safe to assume that for many students these values played a meaningful role in their decision to attend BC, it is incredibly unsafe to assume that these same students, or any students for that matter, are sexually inactive or informed, safe, or even consenting participants in the sexual activities they engage in.

BCSSH is simply working to uphold the commitment to sexual health repeatedly demonstrated by the larger sexually active student body. The administration's threat of disciplinary action against BCSSH is not only a demonstration of disrespect for their students' values and needs, it is arguably illegal.

After consulting with the members of BCSSH, Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts has argued that the rights of the students are being threatened and is prepared to take legal action if BC does not reconsider its threat of disciplinary action.

As an alumnus, I truly hope it doesn't come to that. All I ask of you, dear alma mater is that you be respectful of the health, safety, and rights of the students who call your school home.

As we approach our five-year reunion this May, I urge my fellow classmates of 2008, to do the same. To pledge your support and Stand with BCSSH please click here: http://tinyurl.com/StandWithBCSSH.

(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/daniela-ramirez/boston-college-condom-distribution_b_2966506.html)


March 28, 2013

On Religious Freedom at Boston College

Anonymous

Boston College recently threatened a group of students with disciplinary action for distributing condoms on campus. The group, Students for Sexual Health, receives a grant from Advocates from Youth every semester and uses that and other resources to distribute more than 1,000 condoms a semester. The threat has made national headlines with articles in the Boston Globe and involvement from the American Civil Liberties Union.

When I was a student at Boston College, I came to love and appreciate the Jesuit values of love and compassion and the challenge to "see God in all things". I am not a professed Christian, but I hold dear to my heart the lessons that I've learned from BC. While I hate to ruffle feathers as I did as an undergraduate, I feel that I have no choice but to point to an important document to highlight the hypocrisy of Boston College's administration.

Dignitatis Humanae, or the "Declaration on Religious Freedom", is a product of the Second Vatican Council that outlines the Catholic Church's role in a modern society that is religiously diverse. In it, the Catholic Church reaffirms its commitment to respecting an individual's freedom to exercise her/his own religion without persecution or coercion:

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

Boston College's threat to hold the BC Students for Sexual Health responsible for violating the most amorphous of the student responsibilities is a message that an individual's actions that are in accordance with her own religious belief can be a violation of Boston College's Catholic Jesuit mission. In other words, a student who believes, within her religion, that condoms and pre-marital sex are morally justifiable, can be told that she cannot practice her religion on campus.

Officially recognized student groups are absolutely bound to BC's moral code. My point isn't to argue to undo this but to elucidate the difference between a group that receives funding and support from the administration from a group that is run independent by students. BC's choice to threaten these students comes as a violation of the Catholic social teaching of respecting an individual's right to practice his own religion.

Aside from Catholic social teaching, there are other problems with using a vague statement in the student code to hold these students responsible. While Boston College does explicitly state that pre- marital sex is a violation of the student code, it makes no mention of distributing condoms or other contraceptives as a direct violation of the student code. By leaving this out, Boston College has left room for interpretation.

March 29, 2013

Earlier this month, Boston College, a Jesuit university, ordered the end to so-called Safe Sites — the eighteen student-run outlets on and off campus that provide free contraceptives and information on sexual health. According to the Boston Globe, the letter stated that providing their peers with forms of birth control conflicted with the students' "responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution." The university is threatening disciplinary action against the condom-lovers who are handing them out and the American Civil Liberties Union is promising a legal battle in return, but what's most shocking is that in 2013, this is even a thing.

This isn't the first time a Catholic university has met opposition to their sexual health policies: In 2010, a group of Georgetown students chained themselves to a statue during a prospective students' tour to protest the school's refusal to supply condoms on campus or cover birth control in their health-care plan. Last August, students petitioned the Notre Dame administration to drop their federal suit against the birth control mandate that would require the school to include free birth control in their health plan. But regardless of students' pleas, these universities will not budge on their policies.

I am Catholic. I care about this recent news because I am a graduate of Boston College. I have had sex. I even had sex in my dorm room at Boston College. And each month I walked 1.1 miles (according to Google Maps) to the nearest CVS pharmacy to pick up my birth control. I fully admit that I am a Bad Catholic — the kind of Catholic who probably shouldn't be allowed to call herself Catholic. Nevertheless, I, like so many of my Bad Catholic friends, chose to attend a great university that happens to be Catholic, not a great university because it is Catholic. I knew not to expect condom-filled buckets on doorways — which I had seen while touring Brown — but I did not expect the school to actively dissuade students from encouraging each other to make safe decisions. Plus, until BC and Georgetown* and Notre Dame want to start providing student daycare, aren't a few free condoms the better option? 

Today, other Catholic colleges have come out in support of BC's stance: Officials at Providence College, Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Georgetown, the University of Dayton, and Stonehill University have all stated that their school's policies ban students from distributing condoms on campus and that violating this rule would result in disciplinary action. I get it, the administration doesn't like rubbers around. But I'd venture a large percentage of that hormone-riddled student population is having sex, and this organization costs the school nothing. Religious organizations turn a blind eye to plenty of things they don't endorse: sexual abuse of children, say, or granting annulments to get around the no-divorce rule, even if the couple already had kids. Why can't peer-to-peer sex ed be one of those things? Schools like Boston College shouldn't deny the realities about sexuality, but if they insist on it, the least they can do is grant their student body the freedom to educate each other. Unless, that is, I am the only person at Boston College who ever had sex. Well, me and one other person.

(http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/03/boston-colleges-anti-condom-rule-makes-no-sense.html)

March 28, 2013

To whom it may concern:

            My name is Zack Herhold, and I am a senior here at Boston College. I did not choose BC based on its policies regarding sexual health. In fact, I seriously doubt that I knew anything about its policies regarding sexual health before attending this school. At the time, I foolishly assumed that a world-class institution that boasted tolerance would care for its student body in an appropriate manner regarding sexual health.

            In my four years here, I have come to learn that the reality is far worse than I had originally assumed. I have come to learn that Boston College maintains some archaic policies in regards towards sexual health on campus that are quite simply ignorant of reality. The reality is, that students at Boston College have sex. I think you would be hard-pressed to find any student that disagrees with that statement. I believe that this university’s policies should reflect that reality. Since sex on campus is a reality, then appropriate sexual education and protection should also be a reality.

            BC Students for Sexual Health are not advocating for sex on campus. Rather, they are simply advocating for the appropriate education and protection of those students who do have sex on campus. Frankly, I think such an endeavor should be commended by this institution rather than condemned. It is about time that a world-class liberal arts university embrace policies that rationally address the needs of their student body.

            I intend to stand with BCSSH in their efforts to organize and promote sexual health on campus.

Zack Herhold

29 March, 2013

To the Administration of Boston College:

It was with great disappointment that I read the recent press about our institution regarding the actions being taken against the organization, “Boston College Students for Sexual Health.”  I am writing to you because this news makes me deeply concerned for the future direction of my university. 

My decision to attend Boston College was guided by respect for the university’s ability to incorporate traditional Jesuit ideals into a dynamic academic community.  It was immediately clear to me that BC had a strong set of core values, and I respected above all that none of these values took precedence over the others.  Indeed, on the university’s website, BC’s mission is articulated as a “commitment to integrating intellectual, personal, ethical, and religious formation.”  This integration is what Boston College stands for in my eyes: never neglecting one aspect of personal development in pursuit of another in order to produce well-rounded and thoughtful individuals.

However, this is precisely what the recent actions by the administration against BCSSH are doing: subverting personal and ethical development to the pursuit of religious principles.  The message that this sends to prospective members of the Boston College community is that we are a university that will encourage personal growth, individual initiative, and the desire of students to help one another only within certain boundaries which the administration will determine.  The student body can be academically, personally, and spiritually dynamic, but only in ways which university officials deem to be appropriate.

This is not the type of intellectual experience that I sought when I made my decision to join the Boston College Class of 2013.  It is very likely that, had the administration issued this decision four years ago, I would have pursued a school that better adhered to a creed to “unite high academic achievement with service to others,” to again reference ideals articulated on the university website. 

It is a service to others that BCSSH is offering, a service that the university refuses to provide.  I urge you to reconsider the actions you have taken against this student group, so that Boston College continues to attract students who seek an undergraduate experience that includes physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth.

Regards,

Kathryn Duerr

Boston College Class of 2013

March 31, 2013

Dear Lizzie, Joshua, Laura, Chelsea, and other members of BCSSH,

            I am writing to express my full and complete support for Boston College Students for Sexual Health.  I stand with BCSSH because I don’t believe that the private sexual decisions made by BC students should ever be subject to any form of oversight, judgment or threat of disciplinary action from anybody, let alone the administration.  As long as I’m not hurting anybody, I have the right to engage in any consensual sexual activity that I chose, a right that stems from my identity as a free human being with passions, desires and vocations that are mine and mine alone.  What students do in private, provided that it complies with all relevant laws, is intrinsically personal, and is thus beyond the reach of administration threats.  I, like many in the Boston College community and beyond, am outraged by an administration that threatens to expel students for performing a public service that it neglects to do itself.  While there is much to be proud of at Boston College, the administration’s threats make me ashamed to be an Eagle.

            I recall a session at an Admitted Eagle Day last spring, in which Fr. Leahy discussed BC’s Jesuit heritage.  I distinctly remember him saying that despite his personal religious convictions, he didn’t care if we believed what he believed; he simply cared that we reflected on important questions and believed in something.  Well, Fr. Leahy, I do believe something.  I believe that students should be free to make their own choices, provided that those choices are lawful and that they don’t infringe on the rights of another human being.  I believe that sexuality is an inherently individualistic aspect of human identity, and that we never have any right to judge or condemn the sexual behavior of our peers or colleagues.  I believe that God is love, and that there is no love in arbitrary, moralistic threats leveled against students who are trying to make our community safer.  I believe that students will have sex at BC regardless of what the administration say, and if students are making individual decisions to have sex, I want sexual health information and resources to be available to them. 

            I believe all of these things, and that’s why I’m standing with BCSSH.  Others may believe something different, and I respect that completely.  This not a question of BCSSH challenging Jesuit ideals; it’s a question of Boston College respecting the private lives of its students.  In a recent Facebook statement, the administration noted that we can, “agree to disagree.”  That is precisely our position; we do not seek to change the beliefs of others or ask them to condone our personal decisions.  We simply ask that they recognize personal decisions as personal and be tolerant of those within our community whose value systems are different from theirs.  We simply ask for respect, and we will continue to make our case over the administration’s threats and objections until we are granted it.  That’s why I stand with BCSSH, and I invite all within our community who value tolerance, respect, and love to stand with us.

 

            Sincerely,

            Evan Goldstein

            Boston College Class of 2016, Political Science and Theology

 

March 31, 2013

Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, is on record as having "battled and been overcome by the vices of the flesh [sex]" before age 26, a period of his life during which, according to his close companion Juan de Polanco, "he did not live according to the precepts of the faith, but rather behaved especially badly in gambling and with women . . . and was particularly adept at problems with women."  Secular historians indicate that Ignatius had an illegitimate daughter, born from one of these college-age adventures, whose existence has been long covered up.

How remarkable that any Jesuit university would expect chastity of its students when their own founder was unable to control his own inclinations in the other direction, during the very years of his life when college students are in college.  An expression of Jesus's comes to mind: "Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone..." (John 8:7).

Prof. Rhodes

March 28th, 2013 

As a recent Boston College alumna (class of 2011), a staff member at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, and a founder of BC Students for Sexual Health, I am proud to stand with the student group and their supporters. The decision of Boston College administrators to shut down the Safe Sites program is disappointing and short-sighted.

Birth control is a basic and essential component of preventive health care—no matter where you work or go to school. Access to condoms and the information needed to make healthy decisions about sex empowers young people to protect ourselves and our partners and determine if and when we want to become pregnant and have children.

Everyone benefits when condoms and birth control are accessible. When young people are able to take control of our health and our future, communities see fewer unintended pregnancies and healthier families.

Catholics overwhelmingly agree that birth control access is essential. Ninety-eight percent of sexually active Catholic women will use birth control in their lifetime. Polls last year showed that a majority of Americans and a majority of Catholics support the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act, which makes birth control and other preventive care available without a co-pay. The actions of the BC administration are not only out of step with students, they are out of touch with the majority of Catholic Americans.

While students are always welcome at Planned Parenthood for free condoms, affordable STD testing, birth control options, and nonjudgmental care, students should also be able to count on their university to look out for their health and well-being.

It is irresponsible for Boston College not to equip students, or let students equip themselves and each other, with the information and tools they need to make healthy decisions about sex.

Birth control, including condoms, is basic health care. Even on a Catholic campus.

Alicia Johnson

BC '11

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