Catholic University criticized for not providing free contraceptives to students
A student group that has been anonymously dropping condoms around a Catholic university campus has come forward with a petition demanding the university allow for free contraception and condom distributions on campus.
The Fordham University campus group, Students for Sex & Gender Equality and Safety (SAGES), hosted a protest Monday and taped a petition with 1,100 signatures to university President Joseph McShane’s office door, stipulating the group’s requests are met, according to USA Today College.
"This campaign will last as long as Fordham continues to implement policies that put students’ safety and health at risk."
The demands include: free and confidential access to contraceptives and STD testing on campus, the designation of a free speech zone in which students can use at any time without approval and retaliation from university administrators, enabling condoms to be distributed throughout the campus without being restricted to the free speech zones, and resources and services for pregnant women, including child care for members of the Fordham community.
The current Fordham policy prohibits the distribution of condoms on campus. It also requires that campus group’s obtain prior permission before hosting a demonstration on campus, which SAGES failed to do. Still, Fordham Public Safety officers didn’t stop the group and say they will not be pursuing disciplinary action against the students.
“While we were not given advance notice of the protest by the group, the event was a small one and didn’t really interfere with other activities in the community,” Christopher Rodgers, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students of Fordham’s Rose Hill, told USA Today College. “Students can — of course — organize events like this, but they are expected to follow the student handbook policy and work with us on time, place and manner. In this case, once the protest kicked off, it turned out to be least disruptive to simply observe. We will follow up with the organizers later.”
SAGES was relocated to the McGinley Student Center, where members began loudly chanting “[w]hen students’ rights are under attack, what do we do? Fight back!”
“It feel liberating to be able to take a stand, openly, for policy changes that will improve students’ quality of life and has the potential to inspire people to effect change throughout their own communities, on or off campuses,” said SAGES member Wilmarie Cintron-Muñiz. “I’m proud to stand up with other activists and organizing, openly invoking a long history and tradition of civil rights and women’s rights organizing.”
The group spoke openly to students passing by about their personal dealings with university contraceptive policies.
“I hope that Fordham will take this petition with over 1,000 signatures supporting our demands seriously,” said Cintron-Muñiz. “This campaign will last as long as Fordham continues to implement policies that put students’ safety and health at risk… I anticipate that if students, alumni, parents, faculty and our greater community rally together, they will effect change for the better here at Fordham. By continuing to demand policies that respect the human rights and dignity of every individual who calls Fordham home, these policies will be changed.”
Cintron-Muñiz says SAGES has been in continuous contact with Rodgers through “informal meeting to discuss the coalition in a more personal way.”
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