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Planned Parenthood, ACLU Clash with Boston College Administrators on Condom Handouts

The Boston College administration has said it will discipline students for handing out condoms on campus.

The Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) has put its support behind a group of Boston College students who were threatened with disciplinary action after they handed out condoms on campus. 

The students, who are a part of the group BC Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH), were giving away condoms from their dorm rooms, known as "safe sites." 

"As the president of the state’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate, and the aunt of two Boston College students, I could not be more proud of BC Students for Sexual Health," PPLM President Martha (Marty) Walz said in a statement Thursday. "Since 2009, these courageous student organizers have stepped up to meet the health care needs of their peers by providing condoms and sexual health information from their dorm rooms."

, saying that the Jesuit, Catholic university has a policy against the distribution of contraceptives on school grounds. 

“We recognize that, as a reflection of society at large, many students do not agree with the Church’s position on these issues. However, we ask those who do not agree to be respectful of our position, and circumspect in their private affairs,” BC spokesman Jack Dunn said in a statement to Boston.com this week.

In her statement Thursday, Walz called the BC administration "irresponsible" and "short-sighted."

"I am extremely disappointed that Boston College administrators are now threatening to impose disciplinary action against these students. Universities, healthcare providers, public health advocates, and young people should be partnering together to keep our communities healthy," she said.

BCSSH Chair Lizzie Jekanowski told Boston.com this week that the move came as a surprise, saying the university has known about the program for years but did not act until now.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also stepped up to stand behind the students, saying that it may take legal action against BC if it follows through with discipline, WBZ reported this week. 

“Jack Dunn needs to think about the state’s civil rights act and its applicability to private parties and they should not be threatening students with disciplinary action,” ACLU attorney Sarah Wunsch said in a statement to WBZ.

In his response to WBZ, Dunn said Boston College has the right to set policies as a private institution and can hold students to those policies. 

What do you think? Should Boston College punish students for taking a pro-active stance against the school’s stated position on condoms? Or is this stifling free expression on campus? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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Mark Golden March 29, 2013 at 03:33 PM
BC has the right to control what happens on its campus. BUT, it also has the responsibility of what happens to its students. It is after all, an institution of higher learning and as such should be teaching ideas. Not forcing beliefs. Give the students the tools to make, you will pardon the pun, the right choice. If their religious beliefs are strong, then they are able to stand on their own and convince others to believe the same way. I would advise the Jesuits to think back to the Romans who tried to force the early Christians into believing in all that the Roman Empire believed. Where is the Roman Empire now?
Robert Bent March 30, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Does Harvard College impose and enforce a secular code of conduct on students claiming a religious faith? Boston College has no business interfering in the legal, private conduct of any one or all of its students.
Mark Golden March 30, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Are you asking or telling us that Harvard University enforces a secular code? If you are asking, may I ask you if that code is based on the 10 Commandments? Like virtually all of our laws? I am willing to bet that the Rules of Conduct in no way FORCE a student to violate their own beliefs. I know of no rule that forces a student to use birth control or any other practice that a religion would ban. In other words, the "secular" laws .do not force people to act against their beliefs. But they do give a person the right and ability to make their own choice.

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