I was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic high school, spent years getting confirmed and attended Church regularly, but I’m not religious. I feel like religion is such an individual journey, so I won’t detail why I don’t associate with religion beyond my general lack of belief in a higher power and disagreement with Church practices. 

Before my first year at Fairfield, I wondered what it would be like to attend yet another religious school. My high school very clearly advocated for popular Catholic beliefs, and they didn’t hide it. Websites that revolve around abortion or satanism were blocked by the school’s wifi. School-wide masses were required, even for non-Catholic students and if you were caught skipping, you would get detention. I wasn’t sure if a religiously affiliated college would be different since students are now adults.

Fairfield promotes itself as inclusive to all religions, even providing services that will get students to any religious service the campus does not offer. This was a pleasant surprise, as nothing but Catholicism was discussed in my previous years of schooling. Campus Ministries’ emphasis on service is great, too, providing service options around the Fairfield area. I always thought that was more of what religion was about—helping others in need.

That being said, I think there is a fine line to how much religion should actually impact the policy of a religiously affiliated university, in this case, Fairfield. If the school is going to advocate for itself as being inclusive of all religions, that should include students who do not associate with a religion at all. The Fairfield student body is not the same person; copy and paste. Everyone has their own beliefs and different ways they go about their beliefs. Therefore, some policies or actions at Fairfield have hurt some students mentally and physically. 

For example, contraceptives are not provided to students on campus, as covered in an opinion article by Kaitlyn Drake ‘23. Catholicism is against premarital sex and contraception, so they are not provided on campus. However, what harm would be done if they were provided? Students who align with the Catholic view of contraception don’t have to use them (though I would argue that’s not entirely safe), and students who utilize them are much more likely to be safe from STDs and any other illness that may come from unsafe sex. This policy at Fairfield is harming many students’ physical health because of a religious belief that not every student agrees with.

 In 2014, Fairfield’s Students for Life organization placed 915 pink crosses in front of the Barone Campus Center to symbolize the 915 aborted fetuses a year. I can not imagine the pain any woman on campus at the time who went through an abortion felt when they saw this. 

Former students Michael Leabouf ‘15 and Riley Barrett ‘17 wrote a response to this incident for The Mirror back in 2014. “We have many friends who have received contraception … even gotten abortions from our local Planned Parenthood clinic. We don’t appreciate seeing pale pink ‘baby graves’ scattered across the lawn, and our mood certainly won’t improve when our peers shove leaflets down our throats about the “Planned Parenthood” experience.” 

When Fairfield addressed this in 2014, part of their quote was, “As a Catholic institution, we, of course, stand by the teachings of the Catholic Church that include respect for all life.” How about the livelihood of the students on campus? This is an organization that Fairfield appears to be proud of despite its lack of inclusion for all students—what the school claims its message is. Not apologizing and instead standing by the “baby graves” is deeply harmful to many students’ mental health on campus and can create an unsafe environment. 

In 2010, Fairfield was ranked by Princeton Review at #19 for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) unfriendly campuses. Thirteen years later, not much has changed. Recently, a note was posted in Donnarumma saying, “This is a Catholic University. You are teaching doctrine that goes against the Bible and God’s design for mankind. Shame.” Fairfield has yet to address the student body about this, showing yet again that they are trying to bury this under the rug. 

Jennifer Anderson ‘97, vice president of marketing and communications, commented in an article for The Rearview stating that there is “reason to believe that the person responsible for posting the note is not a member of our campus community.” Not only do they attempt to bury the note, but the administration attempts to bury the fact that those who wrote the note are members of the Fairfield community who attend mass services at the Egan Chapel. 

The homophobic culture on campus reflects poorly on the Fairfield administration’s lack of condemning homophobia. This is not the first case of homophobia I’ve seen on campus. I can count the number of times I have been called homophobic slurs, either as a “joke” or a genuine attack on my identity—Fairfield’s silence on this culture around campus speaks volumes to who they prioritize. 

If Fairfield is going to claim to be inclusive to students, that cannot just mean they offer religious services and community service. It means they need to support all of their students, which means acknowledging that some Catholic teachings are extremely harmful to students on campus. After all, isn’t it a common Catholic saying to “love thy neighbor”? 

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