Boston College, a Jesuit, Catholic university located in Chestnut Hill, Mass., is currently working to stop the distribution of condoms and other "safe sex" materials on campus, arguing that the promotion of contraceptive use interferes with the university's religious values.
"The distribution of condoms is not congruent with our values and traditions," Boston College's Dean of Students Paul Chebator and Director of Residence Life George Arey said in a March 15 email to students, according to NBC News.
"We do need to advise you that should we receive any reports that you are, in fact, distributing condoms on campus, the matter would be referred to the student conduct office for disciplinary action by the university," the email continued, adding that the university has a "responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution."
The condoms were reportedly being distributed by the student-run group "Safe Sites," a network of 18 dorm locations situated throughout the Boston College campus which serve as safe havens for students seeking free condoms, sexual lubricants, and informational pamphlets relating to safe sex.
The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing that the college is violating the students' rights by threatening to bring disciplinary action against the students, and has indicated that it is prepared to pursue legal action if the university does not change its stance.
"Jack Dunn needs to think about the state's civil rights act and its applicability to private parties," Sarah Wunsch, attorney for the ACLU, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 on Wednesday in reference to Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn's comments about disciplinary action.
"They should not be threatening students with disciplinary action," Wunsch added.
Wunsch went on to argue that even though the students at Boston College attend a private university, they are still protected under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act of 1979.
Prominent Catholic universities from across the country, including the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University and the Catholic University of America in Washington, have spoken out in support of Boston College, saying that they too forbid the distribution of condoms on their campuses.
"One of the teachings of our faith is that contraception is morally unacceptable," Victor Nakas, a spokesman for Catholic University, told The Boston Globe.
"Since condoms are a form of contraception, we do not permit their distribution on campus," Nakas added.
The Safe Sites student group is sponsored by the Boston College Students for Sexual Health, and chairwoman for the BCSSH told NBC News that the student group has been dispersing condoms on campus for the past four years and has never been threatened with disciplinary action from school administrators.
According to The Boston Globe, the leaders of the Safe Sites student group will be meeting with school officials at the end of April to discuss the conflict, but they will reportedly continue to disperse contraception at their on-campus locations until the meeting.