Students for Sex and Gender Equality and Safety (SAGES), an unofficial student group at Fordham University that has petitioned for student access to contraceptives on campus, was joined at a rally last semester by representatives from pro-abortion organizations, according to The Fordham Ram.
The rally was organized by Women Organized to Resist and Defend (WORD)—which, according to its website, stands for “access to safe, legal abortion and birth control on demand”— and co-hosted by SAGES.
“Fordham students are doing the right thing in demanding that the university take action to change its policies and put the students’ wellbeing in front of its own conviction,” a WORD representative reportedly declared during the rally.
The Cardinal Newman Society reported on SAGES attempts to undermine Fordham’s Catholic identity policies during the Fall 2014 semester. As a Catholic university, Fordham prohibits the distribution of contraceptives on University property or at University events.
The Fordham Ram also noted that protesters marched on the streets of Manhattan and were joined by representatives from Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and New York Civil Liberties Union, among others.
“We are here to send a message to the Fordham administration that we are united… that we have the power to make change within our institution,” the Fordham Ram reported one SAGES representative saying. “Hopefully the administration does hear this message, but these students are going to have to keep having [rallies],” another student reportedly stated.
SAGES has demanded that the administration change University policy to allow “free and accessible condoms, on-campus access to birth control and STD testing, a free speech zone for students and the elimination of gendered guest policies in dorms.”
The University administration reportedly stated that it would open a “dialogue” with SAGES and that there was “room for compromise,” yet it remains unclear where that compromise would occur given the Catholic Church’s clear teaching against contraception and Fordham’s expected adherence to Church teaching.
The number of Fordham students who support the policy change is also unclear, as SAGES’ petition garnered only 1,100 signatures out of an undergraduate student body of 8,300. Students have also voiced their disapproval of SAGES’ methods.
“I don’t really care if Fordham allows distribution of condoms on campus,” said one student to the Fordham Ram. “I think it’s students’ individual responsibilities. Walgreens is right across the street, and students can get contraceptives and condoms there.”
Another student stated in The Fordham Observer however that, in order for anything to be accomplished, “the demands need to be changed and adapted to be compatible with Fordham’s Catholic identity.”
A Fordham University official declined to comment when asked by The Cardinal Newman Society about the campus policy and how the University intends to deal with the student group SAGES.
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