Students face laboring decision over the pill

Megan Angelo

In just the past several days, the issue of birth control on campus has gone from taboo to turbulent.

“Confronting a concept of controversy,” an article that ran in The Villanovan last week, documented the status of birth control at Villanova. Specifically, it highlighted the reactions of students to the absence of condoms and birth control pills on campus as well as the administration’s defense to this omission: the Catholic identity of the school.

Not even a week later, a different type of campus literature on birth control surfaced to a completely unanticipated response.

“It’s meant to be educational, it’s a learning experience,” said Adrienne Darr, an RA on the first floor of Sheehan who recently posted a bulletin board featuring information on the birth control pill. Darr said she did not expect the residents to respond to the information posted so heatedly, as the same bulletin board has been used in different housing units on campus for the past two years without inspiring much feedback.

The board contains information on the side effects and mechanisms of the birth control pill. Some of the phrases used the words “baby” and “dies” to explain how the pill works. Also included were descriptions of health hazards of the pill as well as a bolded, capitalized statement that read “BIRTH CONTROL KILLS BABIES!” The facts displayed on the board were all cited as excerpts from legitimate published sources.

Reactions of the residents of the first floor of Sheehan, all of whom are sophomore girls, came swiftly. By Monday afternoon, a large poster denouncing the board as “lies” was anonymously posted on the wall. Upon noticing the poster, Darr placed a note next to the bulletin board that stated her neutrality on the subject of birth control and encouraged residents to speak with her to share their opinions on the board.

What was most interesting about the situation, Darr pointed out, was that besides the fact that the board had not drawn attention in the past two years, boards on abortion assembled by Villanovans for Life had also gone unnoticed.

But this pattern of indifference was shattered as the girls of the first floor Sheehan continued to add their own takes on the subject to the walls next to the board. One resident posted a copy of a complaint letter she had apparently written to Ryan Kavanagh, head resident of the Quad. Another girl proffered a list of the health benefits of the pill, calling it “the side Adrienne forgot to mention.”

Darr insists that the bulletin board “does not reflect her own belief.”

But the girls seemed unconvinced. One resident explained, “I don’t need to walk down the hall every day and see that I’m a baby killer.”

Throughout the evening on Monday, several students met with Darr and Kavanagh near the board to share their opinions.

The board was disassembled on Tuesday. In its place were two letters, one from Darr and one from Kavanagh. In hers, Darr explained that she had been notified by Residence Life that she should remove some of the most inflammatory responses from the wall. According to Kavanagh, this action was to prevent the residents from feeling uncomfortable with all the commotion in the hall near the board. Darr maintained that she thought it would be fairer to take down everything. Kavanagh praised the girls for their contributions to the learning experience, but also reminded them of a decision they had made long before they resolved to voice their opinions on the hallway propaganda.

“You chose to attend a conservative, private, Catholic institution for your higher education,” he wrote, “and with that choice comes the acceptance of a culture and religion that must be respected.”