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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Handbook policies to be re-examined

Student Senate helps launch committee on sexual health


In an attempt to help students and bring on-campus sexual health resources to light, the University Student Senate (USS), in collaboration with the office of the Vice President for Student Life, is currently in the process of creating a committee on student sexual health.

Amelia Brown,’18, has been taking birth control since her freshman year of high school in 2010 in order to control cramps from her menstrual cycle. When she attempted to have her prescription filled last semester at the Health Center at Saint Joseph’s University, however, Brown was surprised by the Center’s inability to do it.

“[The woman I met with] said, ‘First of all, it would be a huge process here, I’d have to speak to so-and-so doctor and second of all, because you have migraines, you would have to go to a neurologist or something, Brown said. “She wouldn’t refer me to one. I was very confused.”

In the end, Brown had to take a train and a bus to a Planned Parenthood in Center City to fill her prescription.

“It takes so much time out of my day; it’s very inconvenient,” Brown said. “It would be so much more convenient if I could just pop over [to the Health Center] between classes.”

The committee will be co-chaired by Student Senate Speaker Angelo d’Antonio-Bertagnolli, ’18, who also proposed the resolution to establish it back in December 2016., however the committee members have yet to be named.

“[St. Joe’s] does not seem to recognize that students have safer consensual sex, “d’Antonio-Bertagnolli. It offers few sexual health resources, and is not transparent about the few resources it offers. The committee aims to examine the current state and make improvements where possible.”

The committee will be expected to review the current state of the university’s sexual health resources, analyze their findings, and suggest solutions. In a memorandum included with the resolution, d’Antonio-Bertagnolli lists a number of Catholic universities whose sexual health resources are clearly marked on their websites or in other media, including Villanova University, Regis University, and Fordham University.

The University Student Senate gathers in the President’s Lounge (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Cary Anderson, Ph.D, vice president of Student Life and associate provost, is putting the committee together.

“The resolution was asking for the university to look at our policies and procedures around sexual health and how we communicate all those things,” Anderson said. “That’s what the committee will do. And then they will come back and make some recommendations, and then we’ll move forward from there.”

One initiative that the committee would have is the revision of the Sexual Activity Policy in the Student Handbook.

The policy states: “Nonmarital sexual intercourse, on campus at anytime [sic], is behavior unacceptable to the University. Students involved in activity of this nature will be subject to disciplinary action and/ or counseling.”

d’Antonio-Bertanolli has spoken with the Office of Community Standards concerning this rule, and thinks it requires a more detailed explanation.

“It’s something where, if you live in a suite, and your roommates are being indecent very often, they’ll hit your roommates with certain Handbook violations,” d’Antonio-Bertanolli said. “I understand that there needs to be something in the handbook, but I don’t think what we have is adequate.”

He adds that the rule itself is somewhat “archaic,” a common conception that is supported by the Health Center’s 2014 student survey, where 67.1 percent of students reported having one or more sexual partners in the last 12 months.

The committee is expected to begin work in the next month and Anderson says that their findings may affect the Handbook in the future.

“If the committee can have something back by the end of the semester, that would be helpful,” Anderson said. “Because if we’re going to change policies and procedures, it’s always easier to do it in the summer, put it in the Handbook, and move forward.”

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