The Observer

Staff Editorial: Let’s Be Adults About Contraception

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Staff Editorial: Let’s Be Adults About Contraception

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Fordham, it’s time to talk about sex. Can we be adults about this?

Before accepted freshmen begin their first semester at Fordham, they are required to complete two programs that deal with the undeniably mature issues of alcohol consumption and relationship violence.

To incoming students, the university sets the tone that they acknowledge that its students are adults and should be treated as such. Instead of attempting to shield students from themselves and scare them away from others, the university decides to equip them with the knowledge and resources necessary to handle their first years of adult life.

However, when the conversation turns to consensual sexual activity, their tone changes drastically. Suddenly, Fordham students are no longer considered responsible or mature; their sexual preferences and habits are ignored as far as they pertain to their own health and wellbeing. At the same time, these choices are brought under intense scrutiny and judgement when they do not align with the Catholic Church.

The university refuses to provide contraception on religious grounds. In doing so, the university treads an artificial boundary between the needs of Fordham students and Fordham’s conservative values, doing a disservice to both.

If Fordham were truly interested in preventing students from having sex, they would follow the practices of other Christian colleges: Sex-segregated dorms, strict visitation hours and vigilant Resident Advisors prowling the halls for the faintest bed-squeak. With tuition dollars and applicant numbers in mind, this is obviously not an option.

Instead, Fordham chooses to simply pretend that students don’t have sex, and have no need for preventative sexual health resources like condoms and birth control pills. By ignoring the reality of adult intimate relationships, the university denies its obligation to the safety of its students.

The Observer has acquired real data on sexual activity taking place on Fordham’s campus.  We know that 70 percent of the student body is sexually active. We know that the demand for sexual health resources is high; most importantly, we know that these resources are not easily available to students.

As students at a Jesuit Institution, we recognize and respect the right of Fordham’s institutions such as the University Health Services to align their practices with Catholic values — but we question the university imposing these beliefs across the campus.

Distribution of contraception on campus is banned and technically a punishable offense. Those who wish to provide sexual health services are forced to work underground as “condom vigilantes,” making clandestine deliveries and staging unauthorized workshops. If Fordham refuses to provide contraceptives and protection to its students, the least they can do is refrain from hindering others’ efforts.

Fordham must abandon its fictional and harmful moral middle ground in which students’ sex lives are half-regulated for the sake of half-enforced and half-respected Catholic ideals. The university acts like an awkward parent deflecting a child’s questions about sex, but we are are not children.  We are adults, and for many, contraception is not a question, but an answer. It’s an answer to “I’m not ready to have children yet. What should I do?” It’s an answer to “How do I stay safe as I navigate being sexually active?” It’s an answer to “How do I take responsibility for my own sexual health?”

For Fordham, contraception and protection are relegated to doctrinal debate, theoretical possibilities and sweeping moral claims. To those who are sexually active and want to protect themselves from STDs or are not ready for children, contraception and protection is the reality.  

It’s time to be honest about sex. We’re all adults here.

We do not ask the administration to go against the Catholic stance on contraception, we simply implore them to stop ignoring the reality of sex on campus. Fordham can show that it truly cares about the safety and wellbeing of its students by simply getting out of the way and allowing them to take control of their own reproductive health.

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