Each year, a study sponsored by Trojan Brand Condoms ranks 140 colleges in the United States according to accessibility of sexual health resources on campus and relevant information available to the student body. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Georgetown has been ranked 93rd in the latest 2014 study.

The Trojan Sexual Health Report Card is, according to its rankings methodology, designed “to inspire students to make tangible changes, and to take their schools’ sexual health into their own hands.” While this is an admirable goal, there remain limits to what students can accomplish on their own.

At a certain point, it becomes necessary for the university to recognize that there is something wrong with its system and change it. Unfortunately for Georgetown, that day may be far off, judging from the current state of its approach to sexual health on campus.

It is no secret that Georgetown’s Catholic system of ethics has qualms about supporting healthy and safe sex among its students.

This has been demonstrated in various ways, from the university hospital’s refusal to fill prescriptions for the birth control pill, to the administration’s denial of official recognition to H*yas for Choice, to the student-led anti-abortion groups that do receive access to benefits.

Certain aspects of this larger system of this willful avoidance are inconvenient, rather than overtly harmful. For example, the Student Health Services page on the Georgetown website has a subsection devoted entirely to sexual health issues. This subsection has a grand total of two articles, one containing basic information on STI prevention, the other detailing the steps of a testicular self-exam.

Apparent misogyny aside, the amount of information on this website pales in comparison to what can be found on any of the websites of the top 10 schools on Trojan’s list. For example, the sexual health web portal of the No. 1 ranked school, Oregon State University, includes links to dozens of articles, peer health programs and advisory groups.

However, any student has access to all the information that other universities — and the Internet at large — have to offer, so Georgetown refusing to address certain intricacies of sexuality is not crippling, in this case. There are other examples of Georgetown’s sexual health constraints that are far more troubling.

Although Georgetown’s meager sexual health page advocates condoms as “the best way to prevent STIs,” the university does not provide them to its students, whether free or at cost.

Clearly, Georgetown’s Catholic identity renders the school incapable of providing basic sexual health services like distributing condoms to its students. But, students have access through non-university channels, as H*yas for Choice has taken up the slack in this area, providing this valuable sexual health resource to students for free.

However, there are certain things a student organization cannot conceivably do, which the university absolutely should be doing — like providing Plan B in the standard hospital rape kit given to survivors, or perhaps providing options other than the Crisis Pregnancy Center to students concerned about having a child. These lapses do not constitute “care for the whole person,” and, Catholic identity or not, are just plain wrong.

We are, fortunately, not ranked last. Nevertheless, placing in the 40th percentile among peer schools in an environment in which sexual assault is common on college campuses is a pressing and alarming truth that we as students of this university can no longer afford to ignore.

5 Comments

  1. Oh look it’s another Ed Board article on this topic…

  2. And the worst part is, nobody told me beforehand that this was a Catholic school! I had no idea when I applied here that these were the rules!

  3. One thing that always strikes me about this line of argument in the interminable Georgetown University sex debates is how little credence it gives to the intelligence of Georgetown students. Do you really think that someone who can earn admission to Georgetown doesn’t already know that (1) unprotected sex can cause pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease; (2) the risk of both consequences can be greatly reduced by use of condoms; (3) condoms can be obtained at low prices from multiple locations within walking distance from campus; and (4) abortion is legal in this country? Georgetown already requires its freshmen to attend sessions on how to use condoms, complete with demonstrations using cucumbers and bananas. (At least it did when I was there.) The university allows private clubs to distribute condoms on campus for free. If any Georgetown student needs more than that much accommodation to maintain “sexual health,” then he or she is too stupid to be admitted to any college, let alone Georgetown.

  4. Oh, I forgot to add that, if I’m recalling correctly, Georgetown parted from the preferred policy of the U.S. Catholic Bishops this year in allowing its student health insurance plan to provide birth control and emergency contraception pills to female students (without any copay). In doing so, Georgetown also parted from other Catholic colleges and universities and made an accommodation that probably isn’t required by law, given the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision. What more do you people want? Midnight delivery of free condoms to your dorm rooms? . . . by Jesuits? Free limousine service from Healy Gates to abortion clinics?

  5. This has to be one of the strangest (and lamest) editorials I’ve read in a long time. Did Abby write it?

    First, there’s this:

    “It is no secret that Georgetown’s Catholic system of ethics has qualms about supporting healthy and safe sex among its students”

    Are you kidding us? I guarantee you the Catholic Church and GU care about supporting safe and health sex among its students. It just happens to think this is best done in marriage. Even so, it publishes information information about condoms and STDS, which as Hoya Alum notes, every incoming student knows, despite what the editorial board thinks.

    Here’s the other thing . . . the editorial states it is “apparent misogyny” that there are not more articles on the sexual health portion of the Student Health website. Hello, folks, but men have sex too, and a lack of more articles doesn’t mean the university is sexist or hates women as the editorial implies.

    Here’s the final thing, the editorial says “Clearly, Georgetown’s Catholic identity renders the school incapable of providing basic sexual health services like distributing condoms to its students.” Listen, the university provides basic sexual health services that it needs to . . . you get a disease from sex, the university will treat it. One of your sex organs gets hurt for some reason or you have some genetic issue, the university will provide excellent medical care for you.

    But for religious reasons, it won’t give you that free abortion you want, thought it won’t stop you from going somewhere else. And if you want excellent pre-natal care and to give birth at the medical center, you can, and they’ll take care of you. The university also won’t hand out condoms, though as I’ve said before, you can get them easily on-campus. You’re RA has them. Trust me. Someone on your floor has them, and H4C passes them out like candy. But of course, if you’re responsible enough to be at an elite institution like GU, you probably have some of your own.

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