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Balancing Sex With Spirituality On Catholic Campuses

(the racquette/flickr)

(the racquette/Flickr)

In March, Boston College threatened to take disciplinary action against a student group handing out condoms on campus. The move drew mixed reaction: the American Civil Liberties Union threatened legal action, while other Catholic universities across the country came out in support of the Jesuit College.

Meanwhile, the debate has divided students and staff on the Chestnut Hill campus: some feel that the student group — BC Students For Sexual Health — is filling a need the university is failing to address, while others believe college authorities are right to crack down on a group crossing the line of an institution with long-held religious values.

The tension between spirituality and sexuality on religious campuses is by no means a new one, but this current holy war once again raises the question: in this day and age, where more than half of college-age students in North America are sexually active, how do you balance the need to educate students about the practice of safe sex while maintaining a respect for religious teachings?


Lizzie Jekanowski, a senior at Boston College and chair of the BC Students For Sexual Health

Christopher Knoth, a junior at Boston College

Jack Dunn, Director of Public Affairs at Boston College

Donna Freitas, author of “Sex And The Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance And Religion On America’s College Campuses” and “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving A Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy





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  • Call_Me_Missouri

    Boston College officials think you shouldn’t be having sex.  PERIOD.  Abstain and you won’t need condoms.

    BACKWARDS            BACKWARDS              BACKWARDS

    Go back to the STONE AGES and take these stupid rules with you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jason.rooney.100 Jason Rooney

      Of course!  The old “stone ages” curse!  After all, one can discern moral truth by the clock or calendar… yes?

      Maybe tomorrow, what’s “perverted” today (according to you) will be considered virtuous by the world at large!?  Or will it take a few more days???  Then… won’t it just change back when the fad wears thin and you’ll be vindicated for your holier-than-though moral superiority!?

      Relativism – people are so infected with it that when they get diagnosed… they think the doctor just told them they have unicorns dancing in their heads!

  • J__o__h__n

    Why would anyone who isn’t a religious nut go to a school like this?  They should put a warning on the front of the college catalog so students aren’t surprised when they enroll.

    • BCGrad88

      Never have been a nut, but attended. Great, huge school, with lots to attract students from every religion. However, religion is an option, not compulsory, component. After a Jesuit high school, I was underwhelmed by the scarcity of traditions on campus. Am a big fan of the individual teachers, but the institution and its senior faculty are beholden to wealthy alumni and periodically scold student groups.

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    BC Students give the College respect in the form of  $43,878.00 / year tuition.

    I think that’s enough respect.  Time for the College to reciprocate.

    • J__o__h__n

      That is why they can’t afford to buy their own condoms.

      • Call_Me_Missouri


      • midtempo

        Oh Please!  Their parents are paying for them and those who aren’t are getting copious financial aid.  And besides, those who are indeed paying a lot of money are deferring the repayments till much later.

    • chellennox

      More like $52k now!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jason.rooney.100 Jason Rooney

      Really?  You expect your Calculus professor to throw derivatives out of their instruction… because you don’t like them and you paid for the class?

      “Compromise your standards for me – or else!”

  • Anon

    Why choose to attend a Catholic/Jesuit University if you disagree with Catholic teaching?

    • Call_Me_Missouri

      Why allow anyone other than MONKS attend BC?

    • BCGrad88

      Substitute U.S. (or Massachusetts) for Catholic in that sentence, and teaching with law, war, elected official etc. Same difference. 

  • midtempo

    This is one of the best pieces I have heard on Radio Boston.  It is impassioned and everyone is very smart and civil.  And  Meghna is doing an excellent job moderating it and asking the right questions.

  • BCGrad88

    This has gone on for at least 25 years. IF BC feels this is sinful, it ought to encourage confession and forgiveness. Otherwise, since it accepts students and money from non-Catholics, lapsed Catholics they  ought to abide by US law, and have mercy. These are young somewhat sheltered and conflicted kids who do not need more shame.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/jason.rooney.100 Jason Rooney

      I disagree – these “kids” are openly defying the moral standards of Catholicism and all over the place, people are feigning surprise when the school reminds them that it is a “Catholic” school!  

      These “kids” SHOULD be shamed – if not for practicing immoral behavior – then at least for doing something so stupid!  

      They wanted attention and they got it.  :)

  • J__o__h__n

    Why doesn’t BC really enforce their values and expel all fornicators? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/jason.rooney.100 Jason Rooney

      Are they advertising and/or announcing the hours (or minutes) they will be actively engaging is such acts in defiance of school policy?  Or are they being a little more “discrete”?  ;)

  • ChevSm

    I’m a Catholic who doesn’t support the Church’s stance with regard to birth control but I don’t think BC’s stance is unreasonable here.

    Until the Vatican’s stance with regard to birth control changes why would you expect BC (a Catholic University) to go against the teachings of the church and distribute condoms? 

    • BCGrad88

      When 500,000+ (most of any US catholic university) alumni/ae’s donations dry up, they’ll realize that the US church must lead or secede.  Like a political party, membership is divided, regardless of platform, issue or representative’s stance.

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    Yes it IS overshadowed by the Condom Controversy THAT YOU CREATED.  MORON!

    Draw attention to the Condoms.  Make a big Stink about it.  Then maybe all talk about Sex will go away.  Because Sex is BAD and EWWWY and WRONG!

    • l0ft

      It seems like the real issue here is condoms… Jack Dunn was pretty clear that up to the point where the BC Sexual Health group started distributing condoms on campus that the college and the group was engaged in a pretty open dialogue.  The BC Sexual Health group knew it was in direct opposition to the school’s wishes by distributing condoms on campus.  

      The fact is that in the catholic church contraception and pre-marital sex are sins.  Regardless of how “stone-age” that may seem to you, a catholic institution is not going to provide it’s followers with the means to commit sin just because they might commit it anyway.  Just because some people don’t agree with your hedonistic “modernity,” doesn’t mean they’re wrong or naive.  It means that in this diverse modernity, you need to accept that you don’t always have a “say” in what you believe to be right for a particular group.

      • Pointpanic

        if the students are paying tuition that maeks them part of the campus and they should have a say in policy making . As the recent crisis in catholicism shows,”top down” institutions  should be replaced by more democratic structures

  • chellennox

    An issue here is disease prevention. People are going to be having sex, but they need to stay as safe as possible while doing so, regardless of what the Catholic faith thinks about it.

  • PharmDNU

    I don’t care what your beliefs are related to birth control. The key point here is HIV and STD prevention. As a healthcare provider, one must note that the majority of new HIV infection occur in those under the age of 35, and the rate of HIV infection in women continues to climb!

  • John Green12

    BC needs to stop accepting tuition$$ from non Catholics and Federa
    Funds of this is their position.

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