Point-Counterpoint: The Debate Over Birth Control: Should Fordham Join the 21st Century?


The university faces pressure to provide its students with birth control, despite its Catholic doctrine. (Kirk McCoy/Los Angeles Times)

Fordham Should Provide Its Students with Birth Control

By ALISSA FAJEK, Staff Writer

As students of Fordham, we should not find it surprising that our Jesuit-affiliated school that has certain attitudes towards premarital sex and other “risqué” behaviors, made it to the list of the “10 Most Sexually Repressed Colleges” by CollegeMagazine.com. The university not only has a certain belief system, but it also goes out of its way to make sure that as many students as possible abide by this code of conduct.

The health center here at Fordham can treat students for various illnesses, aches and pains; and sexually transmitted diseases and infections are among these illnesses. The nurse staff will even test for certain STDs yet does nothing to try and prevent them from occurring in the first place. That’s a big mistake. If it is recognized that it is a big enough problem among our student body to need to train the nurses to deal with these kinds of problems, it should be realized that something should be done to stop the problem, not just resolve it after it has happened.

As a rule, the health center cannot prescribe birth control or supply undergraduates with condoms or other contraceptives. Apart from not being able to supply these contraceptives, they don’t supply information on where to obtain it either. This poses a problem because if students do not know where to go to look for birth control or safety against STDs, especially while living in New York City rather than in the comfort of their hometowns, they may engage in dangerous activity and put themselves at a higher risk for disease. Ignorance is anything but blissful when it comes to matters of accidental pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Fordham’s guest policies regarding guests of the opposite sex are also very strict. You cannot have an overnight guest of the opposite sex in the dorms, except for family. If you claim your guest is related to you, the school will call your home to confirm, leaving almost no room for loopholes and exceptions.

It is almost ridiculous that we cannot make these choices for ourselves. This does not stop the student body from engaging in illicit activities, but only provokes them to bend the rules in every way possible, or to sneak around and possibly get themselves into dangerous situations.

In the liberal atmosphere of New York City, it is quite surprising that a school can pull this off. However, in recent weeks the student body has been protesting the school’s policies on birth control and contraceptives. Though the school stood its ground this time, I suspect that this is only the beginning of a battle for change here at Fordham.

A Catholic University Should Stand by Its Catholic Doctrine


Fordham University has been at the center of the college birth control debate lately. CollegeMagazine.com named the school the seventh most prude in the nation, and The New York Times decided our school’s policy was worthy of its front page in Denise Grady’s piece “Ruling on Contraception Draws Battle Lines at Catholic Colleges.” Neither article presents the school’s position on birth control in a positive light, and I think it’s about time someone stood up for Fordham.

When a student chooses to go to Fordham, he or she is well aware they’re going to a Jesuit university. In order to earn such a title, Fordham’s administration is required to follow the rules of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church doesn’t preach birth control; it preaches abstinence and natural family planning. Giving out condoms and prescribing birth control doesn’t exactly coincide with such teaching.

Some argue that Fordham’s position regarding birth control hurts its students, who are now considered more at risk for pregnancy and STDs. In some cases, birth control is necessary for certain health scares, but these cases are extremely rare. Most of the arguments in favor of birth control stem from the mindset that the entire college world is having sex. I’ve been at Fordham for almost four years now, and I’m realistic about what goes on in a college environment.

The difference is this college environment happens to be a Catholic one. It will protect its students from a Catholic perspective. Father McShane has an obligation to his students, but he also has one to his bishop, the pope and the Church overall. It isn’t up to him to change his Catholic school’s doctrine because our increasingly liberal society calls the school outdated and old-fashioned.

If a student has a problem with Fordham’s policy on birth control and demands the school provide it for them, then they should re-evaluate what kind of a school it is they applied to. Fordham makes it clear on its website that it doesn’t provide birth control, so it isn’t exactly a secret the school is trying to hide.

Condoms are readily available at any local pharmacy. Unfortunately, birth control isn’t as easy to gain access to and costs money, but again, if a student wants a school that provides such protection, then he or she should go to a school where religious beliefs don’t heavily influence the university’s rules and restrictions.

The New York Times article explains that the Obama administration’s new health care law could require Catholic universities to provide students with insurance plans that cover birth control, directly violating Catholic institutions’ beliefs. How is this a step in the right direction? Since when did church and state become one? Rather than bending to public opinion, Fordham is standing up for the Jesuit beliefs upon which it was founded. If that means being called prude, so be it.