According to a survey conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, more than half of young men and more than a quarter of young women aged 18-29 have little knowledge of contraceptive services.
In addition, 60 percent of the young men and women surveyed underestimated the effectiveness of oral contraceptives like birth control pills.
To further educate students on contraceptives and other aspects of sex, the College Democrats hosted an event called “Let’s Talk Sex” with the help of funding from the politics department. The event, which took place in the Lower Level Barone Campus Center, brought together numerous clubs on campus, as well as Planned Parenthood representatives.
Co-President of the College Democrats Riley Barrett ’17 thought of the idea for the event after she, along with other students, was angered by the Students for Life’s “classist, racist, homophobic” display in October that targeted Planned Parenthood.
According to Youth Development and Planned Parenthood Coordinator Jennifer Gaines, “Our goal here is to raise awareness and increase knowledge among students on topics such as birth control and STDs … We also want to dispel rumors that are around not only about our organization, but the other services that we offer.”
Gay Straight Alliance representative Brigid Callahan ’16 explained that the event, which took place on Nov. 24, was attended by clubs such as GSS, Alliance and Service for Social Justice. It aimed to teach students about different topics about sex that are often overlooked or misunderstood.
The GSS table, for example, “discussed all the types of sex that can be had, not just heteronormative sex but homosexual sex, the ways you can protect yourself, and the truth behind HIV,” Callahan said.
Barrett hopes that through the event, the College Democrats were able to “create a sex positive atmosphere for students in a sex negative America” through their discussions on STDs, safe sex and the expectations for both men and women regarding sex.
Freshman Erin Monahan found Planned Parenthood to be a beneficial addition to the event, saying she felt it was the most “interactive station,” and they “seemed to be the most enthusiastic ones there.”
However, according to Barrett, the event led to conflict with Fairfield administration over College Democrats’ request to distribute condoms.
“We were hoping to give out condoms so that students could further their safety and to bring awareness to the fact that you can’t get condoms on campus,” Barrett said.
Fairfield administration refused the request to distribute condoms, saying it went against university policy, according to Barrett. Historically, the Catholic church has spoken out against the use of contraception.
This refusal by the administration spurred a slew of derogatory comments from students displayed on a board at the event, such as “FU too, FU,” “Georgetown, a Jesuit campus, can. Why can’t we?” and “Grow up! We are!”
According to Kaitlyn Godberson ‘18, condoms “should have been provided because they help to prevent teen pregnancy, which is something all universities should focus on.”
While Monahan agreed with Godberson that condoms would have been a “reasonable addition” to the event, she did acknowledge the administration’s view.
“As a Catholic campus, Fairfield University does have a right to choose whether or not to supply birth control because it does go against the Catholic theological doctrine,” Monahan said.
Barrett, however, explained that while she is aware of the clash with Catholic beliefs, “The [Catholic] Church has changed its views and that Pope Benedict has said that condoms are OK if they help prevent AIDS and death.”
Despite the controversy around condoms, Barrett hopes that “Let’s Talk Sex” can “open the school up to real diversity.”