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Confusing Values with Reality: Sexual Health Services on College Campuses

College serves as an environment for young adults to grow intellectually, spiritually, and, in many cases, sexually. The phrases “walk of shame” or “casual hook up” are not foreign phrases to the college community. In fact, college communities have extremely prevalent “hook-up cultures”–a culture that is prevalent at any institution, regardless of specific traditions and values.

Because many college students are active sexually, college health centers strive to keep their students safe and healthy. Many health centers provide an array of contraceptives and sexual health information, as well as STD testing. Although some might say that this openness in talking about college students’ sexual health might be condoning students to participate in the “hook-up culture,” ultimately the information and available contraceptives are provided to keep the students safe from pregnancy or potential STDs.

Last week, The New York Times wrote an article on the sexual heath resources at Boston College. Just as any college should, individuals at BC accept that not all college students are abstinent and, thus, they look to promote safe sex. In the article, Ban on Free Condoms Jeopardizes Group’s Work With Catholic College, writer Jess Bidgood talks to one of the members of the how Boston College Students for Sexual Health organization. In the organization, the members  “‘have S.T.I. facts, birth control choices, how to choose one, and then Planned Parenthood locations and resources,’” says junior at BC, Chelsea Lennox. 

Boston College is a Jesuit university. It prides itself on upholding traditions, and it integrates religious values into its student life. With the religious foundation of the school, it is not surprising that the administration does not promote this “hook-up culture.” However, the administration’s response to the Boston College Students for Sexual Health organization, is surprising. Members of the group received letters from the administration telling them that “‘The distribution of condoms is not congruent with our values and traditions.’”

This backlash from the administration stirred up a need for conversation. Although religious institutions might not want to accept the nature of the college environment, I believe that it is important that the administration be mindful of reality. As BC student, Lizzie Jekanowski, said in The New York Times article, “Students are going to be having sex regardless, and unless they have the education to know that you need to use a condom every time — for pregnancy prevention, S.T.I. prevention — and unless they have them available, they’re not going to use it.”

At Connecticut College, a small liberal arts school, we are cushioned by a generally liberal and progressive mindset when it comes to the administrations decisions for student life. Just this year, the health center has put on numerous events to raise awareness to healthy and safe sex, as well as the “condoms and candy” we received on Valentines Day in Harris. In reading this article about BC, I found myself picturing what college would be like if the administration at Conn did not somewhat embrace the nature of the “hook-up culture. ” I think it is important that the health centers at schools understand that college students– with those raging hormones of ours–are not all going to remain abstinent. By providing sexual health information, even if it might go against personal social/ religious beliefs, it is ultimately keeping the students safe–which should be the administrations top priority. 




Bidgood, Jess. “Ban on Free Condoms Jeopardizes Group’s Work With Catholic College.” New York Times. N.p., 7 Apr. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.

image credit: http://www.wlu.edu/x56164.xml

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