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District of Columbia: Georgetown U. Bulldogs ‘Roll Over’ on Condom Policy

By Emily Ike, SIECUS Program Research Intern 

Georgetown University, home of the sports mascot Jack the Bulldog, skirted a potential controversy this Fall when the student group, H*yas for Choice launched a condom delivery service to increase access to contraception and STD prevention. In a largely unexpected reaction from administrators at the nation’s oldest Catholic Jesuit institution, the university has chosen not to interfere with the students’ program. 

“H*yas for Choice is not an organization with access to university benefits and does not use university resources,” said Rachel Pugh, Georgetown’s director of media relations. “We respect the rights of our students to join outside groups as individuals and believe this activity falls within that context.”[1]

Any student at Georgetown can fill out a form online to request condoms for their event or party and have the option to either pick them up or have them delivered. With the closest place to purchase condoms eight blocks away from campus, students’ access on and around campus is limited. According to H*yas for Choice Vice President Abby Grace, the group provided 40 condoms at the first student party it officially supplied, and students took 30 of those.[2]

In contrast to Georgetown, Jesuit-affiliated Boston College earlier this year threatened to punish students involved in Boston College Students for Sexual Health for similar activities. Administrators there argued that students’ making condoms available to their peers was a violation of Catholic values and the Boston College code of conduct.[3] Several other Catholic universities publically sided with Boston College administrators, including those at Georgetown University.

Georgetown administrators recently proved unpredictable on other sexual health matters as well: in July they announced that for the first time in the university’s history, campus health insurance plans would cover contraceptive services. However, students would still not be able to obtain these services at the campus health center due to the institution’s commitment to the Church’s Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.[4] Instead, students would have to seek covered services off-campus.

Georgetown has particular “free-speech zones” across campus where students are allowed to promote political or ideological causes with little interference from the school. H*yas for Choice began offering condoms in these zones from 10am to 4pm, but changed their approach after hearing student feedback that condoms “aren’t usually in demand as much just after lunch.”[5]

Some students have voiced opposition. Andrew Schilling, a student involved in the conservative Knights of Columbus, insisted that “Hoyas do not need more contraception, or a more efficient method of distributing them…Unfortunately, the proposed plan does nothing to tackle the urgent problems of Georgetown’s current hook-up culture, like the high rate of sexual violence committed against women.”[6]

In contrast the student publication Georgetown Voice recently endorsed the project:

“In light of Georgetown’s continued refusal to promote contraception as a method of safe sex, the presence of H*yas for Choice on campus is invaluable to the promotion of safe sexual practices among the student body.”[7]
 


[1] Tyler Kingkade, “Georgetown Won't Try To Stop Condom Delivery Service Launched By H*yas For Choice,” The Huffington Post, October 24, 2013, accessed November 12, 2013 at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/georgetown-condom-delivery_n_4150374.html.

[2] Kingkade, “Georgetown Won't Try To Stop…”

[3] Jess Bidgood, “Ban on Free Condoms Jeopardizes Group’s Work with Catholic College,” New York Times, April 7, 2013, accessed November 12, 2013 at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/us/ban-on-free-condoms-jeopardizes-a-boston-college-group.html?_r=0.

[4] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Fifth Edition, 2009,accessed November 18, 2013 at http://www.usccb.org/about/doctrine/ethical-and-religious-directives/.

[5] Kingkade, “Georgetown Won't Try To Stop…”

[6] Jeffrey Lin, “H*yas for Choice Announces New Condom Delivery System,” Georgetown Voice, October 17, 2013, accessed November 18, 2013 at http://georgetownvoice.com/2013/10/17/hyas-choice-announces-new-condom-delivery-system/.

[7] Editorial: “Condom Delivery Service Makes Students Safer,” Georgetown Voice, October 16, 2013, accessed November 18, 2013 at http://georgetownvoice.com/2013/10/16/condom-delivery-service-makes-students-safer/

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