In light of the University’s commitment to being a modern Jesuit institution for the 21st century, the Fairfield University Student Association is leading a discussion regarding the distribution of contraceptives on campus, having sent out a survey on Jan. 29. The sale and distribution of contraceptives is a contentious issue that the University is facing because of its distinct Catholic identity, which would be principally opposed to such measures.
The FUSA Senate Diversity & Inclusion Chair, Catherine DePino ‘18, stated that, “From my understanding, there was a FUSA Resolution passed last year that said that contraceptives should be allowed on campus. From what I’ve heard, the FUSA President at the time [Zoe Ferranti ‘17] felt uncomfortable discussing this resolution with administration, therefore, the resolution was avoided.”
According to DePino, the contraceptives committee was formed in order to coordinate with the administration and to discuss the matter at hand. As of now, there is currently no policy in the University handbook that speaks to this issue, hence the discussion.
The overall goal of the committee, as DePino put it, is that, “After three meetings of discussion-based dialogue surrounding the idea of contraceptives on campus, the contraceptives committee aims to comprise a statement that will be released to the student body by administration about a contraception policy.”
Sophomore Samantha Millette felt as though, “they should allow contraceptives on campus because it goes beyond beliefs of the institution. I think the safety and health of students should be more important.”
DePino also expressed interest in having FUSA challenge the administration on this matter in order for the University to become, as a whole, a more progressive institution, so contraceptives being offered here would be a step in the right direction.
In terms of the results of FUSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee survey as they stand, as of 11:24 p.m. on Thursday, Feb 1, 426 students in total had taken part. Of this total, 82 percent of students believe that it is important to have contraceptives offered on campus.
Sophomore Olivia Baril felt that, “Regardless of the Catholic belief about contraceptives, we need to realize that contraceptives are used for other things besides preventing pregnancy. STIs, acne, and many other things are reasons why condoms and birth control pills should be offered by the school.”
Another student, Alyssa Vigorito ‘19, said that, “I don’t think the administration’s choice to reject the availability of contraceptives on campus is a fair one in part because I believe our safety is at risk without them. When it comes to STDs that can be prevented with condoms, for example, why wouldn’t the administration consider our safety and distribute them for our basic health?”
Vigorito further added, “Allowing contraceptives on campus doesn’t force anyone into buying them nor using them, but it allows students to have the option to make safer choices for themselves.”
DePino also added that, “Another major concern is that students cannot be prescribed birth control for sexual purposes at the health center. As a female, this is extremely disheartening to me that women on this campus do not have this fundamental right.”
Additionally, 74 percent of students would like to see contraceptives being offered via the health center, 66 percent in the residence halls and 60 percent in the campus bookstore. Of the 313 students surveyed, 96.17 percent of sexually active students responded that they use contraception. Of the remaining 12 students who responded that they did not use contraception, 45.45 percent said that it was for accessibility reasons, according to dean of students and associate vice president for student affairs Karen Donoghue.
Despite these statistics, DePino noted that the administration feels as though, “it is very unlikely that contraceptives will ever be sold or distributed on campus.” She also added, “…not all students chose Fairfield because of its religious identity. I’m advocating for the students that chose Fairfield for all other reasons that make Fairfield great …This school claims to embody acceptance and inclusivity, so why can’t it acknowledge that students are sexually active and have a right to contraceptives for safe, consensual sex?”