Point: Petition for Sex and Gender Equality for All


(Ian Mckenna/ The Observer)
(Ian Mckenna/ The Observer)

Due to their message and methods, the Sex and Gender Equality and Safety Coalition (S.A.G.E.S.) has quickly become a hot topic on campus. This group of students has brought it upon themselves to advocate for gender equality and for the promotion of safe sex at Fordham University. Their demands include access to free condoms, birth control prescriptions, testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and resources for pregnant women. They also call for a change in the structured rules of the University by asking for the elimination of the guest policy and the creation of co-ed dorms. These demands are with good intention, but S.A.G.E.S. has failed to see how some of these are unrealistic in a Jesuit environment and thus should be revised.

In their petition, S.A.G.E.S. claims that the guest policy is “paternalistic, infantilizing and heteronormative,” and it hinders students from forming co-ed friendships. Yet the policy doesn’t ban signing in people of the opposite gender, it just requires them to be signed out by 3:20 a.m. The ability to have any guest over from 6:30 a.m. to 3:20 a.m. allows for plenty of time to form friendships. In fact, a person probably wouldn’t have a guest over that wasn’t already considered a friend. As for the required passes, the policy’s function is deeper than just somehow discouraging sex. It’s a way to limit the times a person can have overnight guest to diminish roommate conflicts. It’s also a safety precaution because by signing the people in, security can know approximately how many people are in the building in case of an emergency. 

As for creating co-ed dorms, there are other colleges that have them in place but one must remember that Fordham is a Jesuit school, meaning that the University’s principles are based on those of the Roman Catholic Church. Having co-ed dorms would be seen as encouraging sex in the eyes of the Church. It’s understandable that a part of the population just wants to be open about sex, but Fordham has to reflect the values of the Church, whether or not those values resonate with us on a personal level. Fordham does not call the shots, the Catholic Church does. Any change in Fordham’s ideals would need to be implemented in the Catholic Church in general. Also, as the policy stands now, people have to live in suites with members of their gender but the floors themselves aren’t gender exclusive. Nor are there restrictions on visits from a member of the opposite sex within the residential halls. Of course, this is mostly the case for the Lincoln Center campus since there are no community bathrooms. As for the Rose Hill campus, separating students by gender does make sense in an environment where a communal bathroom has to be shared. Even the most liberal students might feel more comfortable in the current situation. Not to mention the reluctance most parents would feel in enrolling their sons and daughters into such an environment.

These two changes don’t seem realistic at Fordham, but maybe the administrators can agree to provide us with the more feasible items on the S.A.G.E.S. agenda. These include resources for information on safe sex and even condoms and birth control prescriptions.  S.A.G.E.S. needs to pick and choose its battles so the administrators aren’t overwhelmed by the demand to implement so many changes at once. Realistically speaking, the administration will not restructure dorms to be co-ed or do away with a policy that has multiple functions. Our student body may be very liberal for the most part, but we have to remember the identity of our University, one that we were made aware of even before we enrolled. If anything will be accomplished, the demands need to be changed and adapted to be compatible with Fordham’s Catholic identity.