DePaul Feminist Front contraceptive initiative knocked off SGA ballot

(From left) Laura Springman, Kara Rodriguez and Adina Babaian lead DePaul’s annual Take Back the Night march Thursday. (Erin Yarnall / The DePaulia)
(From left) Laura Springman, Kara Rodriguez and Adina Babaian lead DePaul’s annual Take Back the Night march Thursday. (Erin Yarnall / The DePaulia)

A petition seeking a change in DePaul’s contraceptive policy failed to get the necessary amount of signatures to appear as a referenda question in the upcoming Student Government Association elections.

While 1,556 people signed the petition, which sought “to allow condoms, along with other sexual health products, to be freely available for distribution among the student body,” only 1,339 were valid, according to SGA President Matthew von Nida. SGA’s Election Board Bylaws state that signatures must be submitted 30 days before the start of elections and there must be at least 1,500 valid signatures.

“While Feminist Front’s petition to change university policy did not achieve enough student signatures to be placed on the ballot for SGA’s spring elections, SGA will continue working with students and the university to pursue initiatives of student health and well-being,” von Nida said. “Members of the DePaul community have worked tirelessly on initiatives to improve student well-being, but we know more work must always be done.”

Since DePaul is a Catholic institution, it follows church teachings and policy, which includes a ban on contraception as official university policy.

“DePaul University reserves the right to restrict the distribution of medical or health supplies/devices items on university premises that it deems to be inappropriate from the perspective of the institution’s mission and values,” the policy reads.

DePaul Feminist Front (DFF), the student organization that spearheaded the petition, has been extremely critical this policy, which they say is from the Stone Age and does not promote a healthy and safe environment.

“DePaul has a really low sexual health rating and I think it’s important to be realistic about this,” said Feminist Front member Laura Springman last month. “College students are going to have sex and it’s a health and safety issue to ban contraception on campus. We want students to know what their options are because we think that it empowers students and keeps them safe. If you want to have a safer campus, then that’s one of the ways to do it.”

DFF did not have immediate comment on the subject, but said they will release a statement responding to news in the next few days.

As the DePaulia reported in January, the university ranked 113th out of 140 institutions investigated as part of Trojan’s annual sexual health report card. While some university officials have questioned the validity of a story sponsored by a condom company, many students do not believe on campus sexual health resources are adequate.

This action also means there will be no referenda question to appear on the ballot this election cycle. Last year, the DePaul Divest initiative divided the campus into pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli camps as Student For Justice in Palestine sought to convince the university to divest its funds from companies that do business with the Israeli government and military.

While the measure passed with a 54 percent affirmation, divestment was never seriously considered as the university’s Fair Business Practices Committee voted it down in January. SGA elections will be held May 18 through May 22.