Fordham’s Lack of Sexual Health Resources Puts Students in Danger


We’ve been told that sex should be an uncomfortable topic of conversation.

Fordham has only reinforced this stigma around sex, and we need to hold administration accountable for their inadequate sexual education. This isn’t Sunday school. We are all adults, and we deserve the ability to communicate about sex in an honest and welcoming space.
Several first-person accounts on @letstalkaboutitfordham have recently claimed that Fordham failed to provide students with accurate information regarding their sexual health. In one instance, a sexually active student with abdominal pain said that the nurses in the Health Center told her that abstinence is the only true birth control and was allegedly denied a pregnancy test and told to seek help elsewhere. Another student who suspected they had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) claimed that nurses told them that they might have chlamydia without checking the results first.

These are only two of the many alleged accounts shared on social media about the Health Center failing its students by providing inadequate and false information. It is not right that students are refused treatment or testing on outdated religious grounds. We all decided to attend a Catholic university and respect the religious values of the institution, but those beliefs deserve to be challenged when they negatively impact student health.

The Health Center is morally obligated to stop shaming students for their sexual health concerns and instead provide students with accurate information regarding STDs and birth control.

This lack of birth control and STD education is not just a recent issue. In 2014, a Rose Hill student developed ovarian cysts that needed to be treated with hormonal birth control. However, Fordham policy restricts the Health Center from writing new prescriptions for contraceptives. A week later, the student collapsed and was sent to the hospital for treatment.

Students should not be placed in situations where they are being sent to the hospital for issues that can be treated with a simple prescription for birth control. Fordham’s subpar sexual education has a direct impact on the health and well-being of students on campus. The nurses in the Health Center need to be educated on the importance of birth control and STD testing, and all students should receive accurate information regarding their sexual health.

The Health Center is morally obligated to stop shaming students for their sexual health concerns and instead provide students with accurate information regarding STDs and birth control.

Fordham is not the only institution failing to provide adequate resources for sexual health — birth control has been under attack on a nationwide scale. The Supreme Court’s decision on birth control in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania ruled that private employers can deny birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The ruling is abhorrently misogynistic and seems like a blatant violation of the separation of church and state. This national attack on birth control means that now more than ever institutions like Fordham need to embrace sexual education and protect their students from STDs and unplanned pregnancies.

The main sexual health segment taught during the New Student Orientation program for around 20 years comes from speaker Elaine Pasqua, who demonstrated the high likelihood of getting an STD in college with a plastic cup activity. Pasqua concluded her presentation by reasserting that abstinence is the “best” form of sexual protection and STD prevention. She failed to acknowledge that abstinence programs have been proven largely ineffective in preventing pregnancies or STDs. Fordham needs to stop supporting speakers who advocate for abstinence more than birth control, and they need to give accurate medical advice about STDs and birth control during Freshman Orientation.

Abstinence is not even realistic for most college students. Nearly half of the 20 million STD diagnoses each year are from people between the ages of 15-24. A survey of 315 students in 2019 conducted by The Observer found that approximately 62% of Fordham students are sexually active. Of those students, 8% replied that they were not using contraceptives and 27% responded that they considered not using contraceptives because they were not easily accessible. Clearly, Fordham students are not abstinent, so if Fordham truly wanted to protect its students, it would educate its health care professionals on birth control and provide students with ways to engage in sexual behavior while simultaneously protecting their health.

Sexual health is not a religious or political issue. It is a basic form of health care. If Fordham wants to embrace its Jesuit value of “cura personalis” and care for the whole student, it needs to provide students with accurate information about STDs, birth control and sexual health.

Although the pandemic has led to a decrease in sexual activity for students, that does not invalidate the importance of sexual education. Fordham should develop a better approach to sexual education and health by further educating nurses and providing students with accurate information regarding birth control and STDs. Fordham students deserve to be properly educated and provided with resources to tackle sexual health concerns.