Boston College has taken action against a student group that dispenses condoms, intending to reinforce Catholic Church teachings in favor of marriage and against premarital sex. Administrators are certainly within their rights, as overseers of a private Catholic institution, to crack down. But it’s still an unfortunate move: The administration and the student group coexisted respectfully for four years before the administration abruptly changed course. There’s no reason to believe they can’t do so again. And BC’s leaders would earn the admiration of students by being mindful of their interests and needs — which might, in turn, make them more receptive to church teachings.
In 2009, nearly 90 percent of BC students voted in favor of a referendum asking for better access to contraceptives and more information on preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. A student-led group, Boston College Students for Sexual Health, stepped up, and has over the past four years been distributing condoms and safe-sex pamphlets from sidewalk booths and 18 so-called “safe sites” in dorms. Now, without any extra provocation by the students, the college is ordering the group to stop, declaring that its actions are in conflict with the “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”