It has long been policy at many Catholic universities that condoms may not be sold or distributed on campus. For Georgetown, this means that any group with access to benefits cannot distribute or sell condoms, although organizations like H*yas for Choice still may make free condoms available even within the front gates. However, at a peer Jesuit school, Fordham University, the administration does not permit people — affiliated or unaffiliated with the university — to hand out condoms on campus, claiming the defense of Jesuit identity.
A petition at Fordham demanding progress in the areas of contraception and sexual health was recently presented to Fordham President Fr. Joseph McShane, S.J., with 1,100 signatures. This petition is a laudable move by students to demand the free choice and free judgment that universities should give to students, regardless of the school’s religious affiliation.
Pursuant to its identity as an institution of learning and understanding, Fordham is obliged to explore contemporary issues of social justice and to inspire the wide-eyed leaders of tomorrow, who are able to make judgment calls regarding what is appropriate, inappropriate, ethical or unethical entirely on their own.
While Georgetown’s model is far from perfect, acknowledging that some students do not adhere to every tenet of the Catholic faith or, even, to the faith at all — and should, therefore, have access to contraception — is an important distinction that allows for more personal freedom. Hopefully, Fordham will take this petition seriously and see that it is possible to adhere to and promote Jesuit identity without imposing impossibly strict regulations on an entire campus.