S.A.G.E.S. Continues Safe Sex Advocacy

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By JUSTIN REBOLLO
Contributing Writer
Published: October 8, 2014

In recent weeks, Students for Sex and Gender Equity and Safety Coalition (S.A.G.E.S.) has posted flyers around Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s (FCLC’s)  campus. S.A.G.E.S. is promoting safe sex at Fordham and advocating against their perception of the Administration’s absent response to demands for a wider access to contraception on campus.

In order to protect members’ identities, S.A.G.E.S. requested to be interviewed by email only. The group is not a student organization sponsored by the University and could be subject to University prosecution for distributing contraception on campus.

S.A.G.E.S. released a petition for students to sign on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The petition is addressed to University President, Rev. Joseph J. McShane S.J., the Fordham University Board of Trustees and Fordham Administrators. Among many other demands, the petition demands: “Free condoms in accessible community spaces to foster an environment in which students are encouraged to talk about sex in healthy and safe ways.”

Stated in the Fordham student handbook, the University forbids the “distribution of contraceptives, contraceptive devices and/or birth control, in any form at University-sponsored events.”

Since Fordham is an educational institution that receives federal funding, it is subject to the Education Amendments of 1972. Title 9, which is part of those amendments, is relevant to this case. Title 9 states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, except that: this section shall not apply to any educational institution which is controlled by a religious organization if the application of this subsection would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”

Elodie Huston, FCLC ’18 agrees with Administration’s stance.  “If we are a Catholic university in name, it is the Administration’s duty to ensure that the University align itself as such. As annoying as it may be, the school cannot pick and choose which doctrines it wishes to follow,” she said.

On a campus that is legally in the right for not providing access to contraception, S.A.G.E.S. wants to bridge the divide between safe sex and the University’s policies. In the email interview, S.A.G.E.S. stated, “that dialogue about sexual health on campus is stunted by our institution’s inability and unwillingness to engage students directly in open conversations about sex and sexual health.”

The group wants “a Fordham University that supports the holistic well-being of all of its students. This vision relies on Fordham taking responsibility for the health and welfare of every person regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.”

In an interview, Keith Eldredge, dean of students at FCLC, said, “the conversation about it [contraception] doesn’t violate anything.”

As for consequences for those involved in the distribution of contraception on campus, Eldredge said, “I don’t see an immediate expulsion for a one time offense of distribution of contraception on campus … It’s hard to exactly say what the sanctions [would] be.”

 While trying to change the Administration’s attitude towards safe sex and contraception, S.A.G.E.S. has established a relationship with, but are not directly affiliated with, the FU Condom Fairy. The FU Condom Fairy is a student who is distributing condoms and other contraceptives around the Lincoln Center campus.

While fighting for a more cooperative administration, S.A.G.E.S. said it will continue to spread its message of safe sex and anticipates October will be a busy month.