Madison Polkowitz / Gavel Media

Students Vote Yes on Referendum From Students for Sexual Health

The Elections Committee announced that the Referendum from Students for Sexual Health (SSH) was passed, with 94% of respondents voting in favor of Students for Sexual Health.

Students had the opportunity to answer the question, "Should Students for Sexual Health be permitted to distribute contraceptives to their peers and hold meetings on campus, without receiving official university recognition or funding?" The referendum coincided with the UGBC presidential ballot, which opened for voting at 12 a.m. on Thursday. While the presidential ballot closed at 5 p.m. on Thursday, the referendum ballot remained open until 5 p.m. on Friday.

A total of 3,002 students participated in the referendum, with 2,825 students voting "yes" and and 177 students voting "no."

"The results of the referendum are abundantly clear that students care about their sexual health and need greater resources to protect themselves. [They] fully endorse the proposal to allow Students For Sexual Health to exist at Boston College without receiving funding or support from the university," said the official statement from SSH.

Prior to the referendum, SSH collected signatures from more than 1,170 students, which was required for the question to make it on the UGBC ballot.

Additionally, the UGBC Student Assembly passed the "Resolution Concerning a Sexual Health Referendum" on Jan. 30, which called for the referendum and expressed support for SSH's right to meet on campus and distribute contraceptives.

A recent survey of 393 undergraduate students conducted by SSH co-chair and UGBC senator Connor Kratz, MCAS '18, indicates that 79.9 percent of the student body is sexually active. The results, which were presented to the student assembly prior to the resolution's vote, also showed that a significant number of students do not use contraceptives or know how to prevent STIs.

Currently, sexual intercourse outside of marriage is considered a violation of the university's Code of Conduct, which states, "All students have a responsibility to respect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution, including adhering to the church's teachings with respect to sexual activity."

According to Kratz, SSH plans to engage in conversation with administrators regarding the referendum response and the survey research in the coming weeks.

"We hope to negotiate a tangible path to granting university permission for the Students for Sexual Health to operate on campus, however, this outcome will ultimately be at the discretion of our administrators," said Kratz.

"We do not believe any change to current university policy is necessary, as condom distribution is not explicitly stated in the student handbook or code of conduct," he continued. "However, allowing SSH on campus with the threat of disciplinary sanctions would represent a de facto rule change from the university's previous response to our student organization."

Regardless of the administration's response, Kratz and SSH members hope that the referendum will result in an increase in campus dialogue about sexual health, as it did when a past referendum regarding sexual health was supported by the majority of the student body and led to the formation of SSH in 2009.

"We want to strongly emphasize that the Students for Sexual Health will continue striving to reach and support our peers at Boston College with sexual health resources and information, regardless of the university response to this historic vote," concluded the SSH statement."We will always remain committed to making sex safer at BC."

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