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My name is Callie Otto and I am a student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. I recently co-founded an unofficial group at my school called Catholic University Students for Choice (CUSC). Catholic University has a very strict no-sex-before-marriage policy and students are not allowed to posses any form of birth control. Unlike many other Catholic universities around the United States, Catholic University of America administrators have made their anti-contraception policies a top priority, going so far as to subject students found having sex or in possession of contraceptives to disciplinary action, with the possibility of expulsion.

Most members of CUSC, including two of the original three women, keep their involvement with the group a secret. CUSC provides students with free condoms, as well as information about contraceptives, STD testing, and even rides to Planned Parenthood. Any student who is caught providing these services is not only subject to disciplinary action but may also be publicly shamed by University officials. This week, I witnessed this attempt at humiliation first hand when Father Jude DeAngelo, head of Campus Ministry at Catholic University, publicly denounced recent CUSC actions. However, rather than disputing CUSC’s efforts with statistics, theology, or experience, DeAngelo decided against proposing a valid argument and instead resorted to shaming individual members of CUSC including myself.

His comments were published in an article by Catholic University Student Olivia Griggs. She writes “[DeAngelo], describes Otto’s [my] efforts as ‘evil,’” and followed with a description of “the ‘great grief’ Otto and her group caused him.” DeAngelo didn’t stop there either, but continued the absurdity by stating ”To me the issue is that we have young people who think they are doing good for others by handing out condoms. There are many instances of date rape in which the assailant uses a condom. I would hate to think that the condom they receive from this group somehow entitles them to…[do this].”

As a young woman, who knows friends who have been raped, this statement was extremely upsetting to me. Too often as young women we hear many reasons of why people like us are raped. We are told again and again, don’t walk down that street, don’t wear that skirt, don’t drink too much. Let me be clear, clothes do not cause people to rape, streets do not cause people to rape, and certainly condoms do not cause people to rape. I saw this picture on Facebook last week and it really resonated with me. Please join me in emailing Father Jude DeAngelo this photograh and let him know that anti-woman comments only contribute to a rape culture; they do not stop it. Banning condom distribution only puts students at higher risk of STIs and unintended pregnancies. It does not prevent sexual assault. It’s time to let Father Jude DeAngelo know that his sexist comments are appalling to women and men everywhere and his hatred will no longer be tolerated.

Please e-mail Father Jude DeAngelo, DeAngelo@cua.edu

Thank you!

Callie Otto
President, Catholic University Students for Choice
Catholic University Class of 2012
@ceotto21

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