The Reproductive Rights Club applied for the second time to be recognized as an official student organization on Creighton’s campus and was denied because of comparative efforts by existing organizations and conflict with the Catholic Church and Jesuit mission, according to the Student Organization Review Committee.
The group, which was created four years ago by a group of women students at Creighton, states in its mission that its goal is to educate students about reproductive health.
“As we are all made in the image of God and seek to live for the Greater Glory of God, we choose to embody an organization of unconditional love manifested in the attributes of justice and righteousness,” the group’s mission says. “This includes the priority of educating the students about contraception, STD/STIs, menstrual health, consent, mental health and positive dating relations, as well as abstinence.”
Events and activities the club hoped to hold on campus included tabling on Valentine’s Day about dating violence and consent, bringing a religious speaker to campus to discuss the importance of discernment in sexuality, improving STD/ STI testing on campus and other related discussions.
However, according to the email sent to the members of the organization by Molly Salisbury, the assistant director of programming and student organizations for the Student Leadership and Involvement Center, the SORC reviewed the application and denied the group registration as a student organization.
“In our process, we look for clubs that are a new concept/avoid duplication, in line with University mission, sustainable and enhance campus life,” said Katie Kelsey, the director of the SLIC and a member of the SORC.
“SORC, based on the information provided about the group and its desired programs...found it to be duplicative of efforts already happening on campus through various offices such as the VIP Center or the Student Health Education and Compliance Office,” Kelsey said.
She said that the SORC encourages students who are interested in this topic to find resources at the offices that are already engaged in the topics of student health and consent.
Olivia Tidwell, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and member of the Reproductive Rights Club, said that she acknowledges Creighton’s attempt to educate students on consent during Welcome Week, but said that the university neglects the forms of consent that involve contraceptives, including choosing whether or not to wear a condom or use birth control.
She also acknowledged that she understands Creighton needs to be careful of what it endorses in light of its Catholic identity.
However, Tidwell said that organizations should still be able to exist on campus without the university being held liable.
“I’m saying if we foster fraternities and sororities that have drinking culture, if we identify people who are having sex...That’s why we need to talk about consent,” Tidwell said. “Why don’t we take a proactive approach so these people are getting the information they need and not putting their health at risk?”
The SORC also determined that the organization did not align with Catholic and Jesuit values.
“The group’s purpose in [the group’s] constitution states, ‘promoting positive reproductive health practices, including, but not limited to, safe sex practice, STD/STI testing and prevention, resources for reproductive health care.’ This conflicts with Catholic Church teaching and the Catholic, Jesuit mission of the University,” Kelsey said.
Tidwell argued that the mission of the club does align with Creighton’s mission. “To have these conversations, we have to stand with other people and meet them where they’re at and show them that, yes, having sex is a thing you can do, and it’s something that should have a lot of responsibility and respect with it,” Tidwell said.
Karen Dolan, a junior in the College of Nursing and a member of this group, said that the club was accepted when it was first brought to campus in the 2017-18 school year, but the original leaders did not like the restrictions of being an official organization, so they continued to work outside of the Creighton Students Union.
This year, the group wanted to be reaccepted so it could have more of an impact on campus without facing repercussions from the university, Dolan said.
“The issues of reproductive rights go beyond religion—this is a healthcare issue that is important to sexually active students on a college campus,” Dolan said. “The reproductive rights movement also encompasses much more than contraception and women’s rights to their own bodies, but environmental justice, women’s empowerment, equality within healthcare, and has long standing roots within disadvantaged communities’ fight for their right for a healthy existence and family experience.”
Dolan said the members of the club are discussing follow-up options to the denial of student organization status as the conversations with administration continue.