Access to condoms is one of the most fundamental sexual health resources on a college campus. However, Georgetown is miles behind other U.S. universities when it comes to providing this basic resource. Seeing that Georgetown students cannot even buy their own condoms on campus, let alone receive any university-provided condoms, Georgetown’s vendor contract should be changed so that students can access this basic resource.
At most universities, students do not have a problem finding condoms, free or otherwise. They are visibly available in big bowls at student health centers, buckets outside RAs’ rooms or at the main desk in campus centers. Oregon State University even prides itself on having 18 condom hot spots around campus. But as a Jesuit institution, Georgetown complies with Catholic teachings against contraception and does not allow university distribution or sale of condoms, according to a university spokesperson. Unfortunately, this policy applies to the university’s external vendors as well, including student favorites such as Vital Vittles, Hoya Snaxa and even Wisemiller’s Grocery & Deli.
A university spokesperson explains the policy as, “Georgetown leasees agree to withhold selling goods and services inconsistent with Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit values.” As condoms fall under this category of goods, none of the external vendors are allowed to offer them.
Unrecognized student group H*yas for Choice fills the gap when it comes to providing free condoms to the student body, under the protection of free speech. From tabling every day in Red Square to hanging envelopes full of condoms on their members’ doors, H*yas for Choice representatives distribute over 10,000 free condoms, dental dams and internal condoms each semester to the Georgetown community.
However, even with these free condoms from H*yas for Choice, students should still have the option to buy condoms on campus.
The closest location to the university where students can purchase condoms is the CVS Pharmacy on Wisconsin Avenue, located a 10- to 15-minute walk away. Considering the packed schedules common to Georgetown students, this policy is certainly not the most convenient solution, especially considering that on-campus stores sell most of the other products students might need.
Furthermore, while free condoms are an option thanks to H*yas for Choice, some students may not feel comfortable with the publicity of walking up to a table in the middle of Red Square and reaching into a bowl of condoms, instead preferring a more discreet option.
In addition, condom envelopes are frequently missing from the doors of dorm floors or apartment communities on campus, which means condoms from H*yas for Choice are not accessible all the time. H*yas for Choice Condom Fairies, a service providing free condoms to students upon request, only deliver twice a week, which may not always perfectly align with the needs of students.
The late-night hours of on-campus stores like Hoya Snaxa and Vital Vittles may appeal to students in search of condoms. What’s more, many people have individual preferences when it comes to condoms and want to be able to pick out their own brand and style.
And yet, the irony is not lost on me that while a student cannot walk into Vital Vittles and buy a box of condoms, they can easily buy a pregnancy test. So while Georgetown will not allow for the sale of a commonplace product that promotes safe sex by preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, the university permits students to learn they are pregnant without the inconvenience of taking even a step off campus.
However, the Georgetown external lease contract does not seem to create an animosity toward all sex — just safe sex. Vittles sells lubricants, demonstrating that the Georgetown lease policy does not exclude all products relating to sex, just those that could possibly encourage students to use protection and be safe. And while it’s great that students have access to a product like lube that can inspire the enjoyable side of sex, that access should go hand-in-hand with barrier methods as well.
Georgetown is a religiously affiliated university, but that does not mean that the school should put students’ health and well-being at risk. However, the university exposes its students to danger by restricting business and access to certain products.
Free is always better, and, luckily, many students on this campus are committed to guaranteeing that condoms will remain economically accessible to all students. However, being able to buy condoms should at least be an option for those who want it. Georgetown should not interfere with the merchandise available at stores on campus based on the institution’s religious identity, especially not when doing so puts students’ health at risk.
In not allowing the option to purchase such a basic sexual health necessity, Georgetown’s external vendor lease policy jeopardizes the health and safety of its student body and should be amended.
Talia Parker is a sophomore in the College. Let’s Talk About Sex(ual Health) appears online every other Thursday.