Is Roberts the framer’s great justice?

Brian Murray

As a Catholic institution, Villanova University is a strong supporter of the Church’s emphasis on the dignity of human life. To this end, the University refuses to provide prophylactics for student use. According to the Health Center website, “As a Catholic, Augustinian school, the Student Health Center, as a matter of policy, does not provide materials on preventing conception or that encourage termination of pregnancy.” Although this is an understandable and respectable position for the University, it raises the question of whose life the Church and the University exactly value. Is the quality of the student’s a priority?

As alumna Julie Lynch’s film “Getting Off,” which was screened on campus this week, illustrates, sex on college campuses is prevalent. Although it would be ideal for the University to be able to prevent pre-marital sex, this is not a plausible goal. Students are going to have sex, and the University must deal with this reality, not deny it at a potentially dangerous cost. In terms of sexual health, college is an especially high-risk time for students. Many young men and women increase their sexual activity, and they are more likely to have sexual encounters with partners about whose sexual history they know nothing.

This is an especially important issue for those students that have little access to off-campus locations that sell condoms. Students are not allowed to have a car on campus before attaining junior status, and public transportation can be costly and inconvenient. Besides, people are lazy by nature. It’s unlikely that all students will go too far out of their way to protect themselves. Although this may be a disappointing statement, it is more important to acknowledge the truth of the situation.

In a 2001 issue of Newsweek, Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa said, “The use of a condom can be seen not as a means to prevent the ‘transmission of life’ leading to pregnancy, but rather as a means to prevent the ‘transmission of death’ to another.” This is a realistic view. Many other colleges across the nation provide this service to students free of charge, some even within each residence hall. However, not many Catholic institutions do. But that means this is an opportunity for Villanova to set an example and pioneer the road to encourage safety among college student relationships.

This does not have to entail the University providing free condoms to students anytime they want them. They could be sold in the bookstore alongside other pharmacy goods or distributed judiciously by the Health Center, perhaps employing a quota system, providing a certain amount to each student per month.

Surely, this would be a revolutionary move by the University – even the suggestion of making such a change may be shocking. But as a school that has always made students of all beliefs feel comfortable, the University may want to consider making condoms somehow available to students.