Condom handouts stopped
By David Brown
Editor in Chief

Delta Kappa Epsilon attempted to distribute condoms attached to promotional cards for its fraternity rush during the Sept. 17 Involvement Fair. Catholic teachings prohibit the use of condoms, and the group was made to cease the handouts.

DePaulia photo by Mary Megan Volpe 

     Brian Ludwig admits it was, at least in part, an act of publicity for his fraternity.

     The Delta Kappa Epsilon active says he had the best intentions when he and some of his brothers distributed condoms affixed to promotional cards at the Sept. 17 Involvement Fair.

     The fraternity gave out about 50 before being asked to stop, which they did.

     Since DePaul is a Catholic university and church teachings forbid the use of contraception, the parceling out of condoms by a university service organization is isn’t allowed.      “Condoms are a form of contraception,” said Peggy Clark, associate vice president of Student Development. “The university doesn’t supply them and university organizations are considered representatives of the university. We have asked groups not to distribute condoms.”

     The “Dekes” had about 100 condoms remaining when Greek Life Adviser Elizabeth Lindsay reminded them of the university’s mission, which clashes with the Dekes’ actions.

     DKE’s promo cards advertising their fraternity reading “You’re safe with DKE” were attached to individual condom packets, and used as the fraternity’s promotional tool for the fair.

     “It was a catchy idea to bring in guys,” said Ludwig, DKE’s social and philanthropy chair. “But we gave them to women, too. People want them. It’s not like they were taking the condoms and throwing them away.”

     “As far as the fraternity using it as promotional material, it was inappropriate,” Clark said.

     But there was another, more practical reason for doing it, according to Ludwig.

     “We were also trying to stress some safety precautions. AIDS is a big deal,” he said.

     While on a spring break service trip in March, Ludwig assisted in comforting AIDS and HIV-positive patients by preparing and serving them food. One man who was required to swallow dozens of pills at each meal to counter the effects of the disease particularly moved Ludwig, he said.

     “The trip was organized by University Ministry,” Ludwig said. “It’s obvious they recognize there’s a problem.”

     Ludwig, a practicing Catholic, was also under the impression the church was softening its stance on condoms as a form of AIDS prevention.

     He wasn’t the only one. Two religion writers in the Jesuit magazine “America” stated in Saturday’s issue that “the Roman curia is more tolerant on the matter” of the distribution of condoms. But Tuesday, a Vatican official refuted the story and said the writers had distorted the position of the church.

     Still, Ludwig realized he was going against church tradition.

     “Trying to convince people to not have sex before they’re married doesn’t work,” he said. “I spoke with a few of my friends after they made us put the condoms away. I don’t think a lot of young people understand the Catholic traditions on this.”

     But people are condom conscious.

     “Most of the students here are educated in what condoms are,” said Anthony Allamandola, a freshman music major. “The school doesn’t have to protect us from what condoms are used for.

     “At the same time, the school has a reputation to keep and if they believe that is more important than letting someone hand out condoms, then they are entitled to do so.”

     Junior education major Carra Barratt questioned the Dekes’ motives.

     “Promoting safe sex is good but it should be done for the sake of protecting students, not to gain attention,” Barratt said.

     Student Sean Strigrny said it was a simple case of the Dekes abiding by what every USO promises to the university.

     “They gave the school a statement that they would uphold themselves in gentlemanly conduct, which the school would have to approve in order for the fraternity to be on campus,” the freshman English major said.     

     “Sex isn’t wrong and neither is practicing safe sex, but giving the university your word should definitely mean something.”

     Ludwig wished for a time when the act of passing out condoms wouldn’t be seen as wrong.

     “Attitudes of people in the church have been changing,” he said. “How can the church remain successful if it stays static?”     

Contributing: Cedric Stines and Susan Meza