Most students at private schools have probably heard some derivative of this many times: in private institutions, you don’t have the freedom to say whatever you want.
That is what I tell my friends at public instructions when they are shocked that Fordham does not provide contraceptives of any kind.
Since we are at a private institution, we don’t have the same rights as students at public ones. But we should.
There has been much controversy in the past two years over SAGES (Students for Sex and Gender Equity and Safety Coalition) demanding that Fordham provide certain sexual health and education services, some of which go against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
As such, SAGES is not a recognized club at Fordham, and their attempted participation in Club Fair was stopped this semester.
Many have asked if it is fair to demand things from a Catholic university that it cannot provide without violating Church teaching.
Of course it is fair; it is the same beginning as every other movement in history.
SAGES is not only demanding changes from Fordham University; they are demanding changes from the entire Catholic Church through all of its institutions. When did it become unacceptable to question institutional rules simply because they are rules? I would challenge any Catholic who thinks it “unfair” to expect a private institution to change its values to defend all of the values of Catholic institutions of the Middle Ages.
The argument that “they knew what kind of school they were attending when they decided to go to Fordham” denies all mechanisms for social change in society.
More importantly, it is not fair to ask students to attend only universities with rules that they agree with completely, or waive their right to demand institutional change.
I do not believe that a world in which students simply accept policies because they “knew what kind of school they were attending” is a place of progress.
Yes, we lose some of our freedoms when we enter into a private institution, just as we lose some of our freedoms when we step onto private property.
But this does not mean that we should not ask for change, and it certainly does not mean that we should not challenge existing institutions.
“These are my beliefs” is an argument that does a disservice to both parties in these situations.
Regardless of the fact that students made a choice to attend Fordham, they still deserve dialogue, and an institution that upholds certain standards has an obligation to itself to be able to defend those standards.