A group of students at Fordham University recently taped over 1,000 signatures to the office doors of the university’s president, Fr. Joseph McShane, S.J. The group of students have formed a coalition called S.A.G.E.S. (Students for Sex and Gender Equality and Safety) and demand that the university take “responsibility for the health and welfare of every person regardless of their gender and sexual orientation.”

 

On their Tumblr page, S.A.G.E.S. list eight specific demands that they hope to realize. They place a heightened emphasis on four of these demands: “free condoms in accessible community spaces,” “free and confidential access to birth control and STD testing,” “a Free Speech Zone,” and the elimination of “Fordham’s sex-shaming, gendered dorm pass policies.”

 

A Catholic university, Fordham refuses to supply its student body with the resources needed to foster the sexual wellbeing of its students.

A Catholic university, Fordham refuses to supply its student body with the resources needed to foster the sexual wellbeing of its students.

A Catholic institution, Fordham University “follows Church teachings on reproductive issues” and not only refuses to make contraceptives available to students, but also disallows the distribution of contraceptives. For this reason, S.A.G.E.S. originally kept information about its members private, and organized secret protests like “condom drops” at university events. However, since then, S.A.G.E.S. has become more public and have revealed the identities of members.

 

So far, Fordham University has not taken disciplinary action, though S.A.G.E.S. has violated multiple university policies, including the organization of a protest without official permission. S.A.G.E.S. member Rachel Field ended the protest with a warning. Field said, “You will be afraid of the power that students hold.”

 

S.A.G.E.S. promises to keep fighting until their demands are met and the university changes its policies to reflect a respect for the sexual health, dignity, and basic human rights of its student body.

 

“We fight because we must,” S.A.G.E.S. says on their Tumblr page. “We refuse to solely intellectualize the health and safety of students. Our case is urgent because our daily lives are affected by these outdated and out of touch policies.”

 

Check out the S.A.G.E.S. Tumblr page and sign the petition to help support their fight!

 

Do you think that a Catholic university can, or should, reconcile its values if these values jeopardize the well-being of its students? Let me know below, or respond on Twitter @ryanlawlessness