Frustrated that her college does not distribute birth control, Stonehill College senior Katie Freitas decided she would do it herself.
After collecting hundreds of free condoms from two family-planning agencies, she and about 20 classmates placed boxes of the contraceptives in student dormitories across the Easton campus last month.
But when administrators at the Catholic school learned of the effort, they quickly intervened and collected the condoms, citing the college's ban against distributing birth control on campus.
"We're a private Catholic college," Martin McGovern, Stonehill's spokesman, said yesterday. "We make no secret of our religious affiliation, and our belief system is fairly straightforward. We don't expect everyone on campus to agree with our beliefs, but we would ask people, and students in particular, to respect them."
McGovern said the college's policy follows church teachings, which op pose use of artificial contraception. Most Catholic colleges do not distribute birth control on campus.
"This is not a shocking revelation," that the college does not permit condom distribution, he said.
Freitas, who said she is not Catholic, said she decided to make condoms available because she was concerned about the consequences of students having unprotected sex.
"Abstinence can be part of sex-ed, and should be," she said. "But college students are going to have sex, and they should be encouraged to have safe sex. In certain moments, students aren't going to stop to run to
CVS, so I think they should be available on campus."
The dispute at Stonehill echoes debates on access to birth control on other Catholic campuses in the region.
For example, students at Boston College recently passed a referendum urging the college to offer affordable testing for sexually transmitted infections and access to contraception.
Freitas, of Danbury, Conn., said that before distributing the condoms, she tried to start a campus group called the Sexual Health and Awareness Group to educate students about safe-sex practices.
But college administrators, she said, urged her to work with an existing student health group, Active Concerned Educated Students.
Freitas said she was frustrated the condoms were removed, so she decided to make her grievance public. Freitas notified the Brockton Enterprise, which wrote about the matter yesterday.
"I expected some resistance, but I think this is a debate that should be out in the open," she said.
Freitas said she will continue to hang a bag of condoms on her dormitory door, although McGovern warned otherwise.
"She has taken a position that differs from college policy," he said. "I would hope she would remove them."© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.
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I'd like to have a conversation with this young woman. Perhaps she'll stumble across this blog entry while 'Googling' herself and she will contact me. ;)