Catholic University, Secular Policies?


Recently, Fordham was featured on Jezebel, a popular blog site, in an article titled, “Fordham Students Protest Hidden Anti-Birth-Control Policy.” The piece described how Fordham’s stance on contraceptives was not clear to incoming students to the school. As Laura Chang and Richard Ramsundar’s article “Fordham Law Student Organizes Birth Control Drive“ on page one describes, Bridgette Dunlap from the  Fordham Law Students for Reproductive Justice fought the ban on contraceptives at Fordham by organizing a clinic where students could obtain prescription for birth control and condoms.

As a university that seeks to abide by Catholic teachings, we are faced with the dilemma of moving toward a more secularized standpoint on morality or holding on to the truths that serve as the foundation of our university. Often, the clashes between these ideals are brought to our attention as students. As we seek to distinguish ourselves as a competitive college amongst our peers, we are faced with controversial concerns—our school may have been founded on the virtues of Catholicism, but some students feel the religion should become less defined in university policy.

In September, strides were taken towards opening the conversation about the debated issue of homosexuality and religion through the “More Than a Monologue Dialogue” held at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Now, controversy centers on reproductive health and the Church. Workers in the Health Center at Fordham follow the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” which advocate what the Church teaches regarding “responsible parenthood and methods of natural family planning.” As a result of the university’s mission to abide by Catholic teachings, students are unable to obtain common contraceptives such as prescriptions to the birth control pill and condoms.

Should Fordham advocate contraceptives and provide them to a student body who seems to want them? Should we as a university forsake what some consider an outdated religious past and move forward with secularized change that so many universities have already adopted? Or is it important to steadfastly remain connected to the Catholic morals on sexuality and promote the idea of the importance of abstinence before marriage? These are questions we face as a university and questions that will further define how we hope to differentiate ourselves among other institutions. While the outcome of the opposition between religion and secular ideals is still unclear, it will certainly shape how our school is.