London Free Press (Canada), November
SCHOOL FIRES EMPLOYEE
WHO GAVE OUT CONDOMS
A King's University College residence employee
has been fired for offering condoms to students
living at the Catholic school.
Residence assistant Dan Grace was approached
several times by administrators about his intention
to offer the form of birth control -- which
is contrary to church doctrine -- and fired
by the affiliated University of Western Ontario
school last Thursday.
"This, to me, is a health and safety issue,"
said Grace, a third-year student on a full
academic scholarship. "There's a lot of
"What concerns me is not where the church
stands at all. It's the disconnect between
church doctrine and the current reality."
King's chaplain Rev. Michael Bechard consulted
Bishop Ronald Fabbro before advising Mary Carol
Watters, dean of students at King's, on the
situation, Watters said.
Though she considers Grace a "wonderful"
residence assistant, Watters noted the school
won't budge on the controversial issue of supplying
birth control on campus.
"The bottom line is, at the end of the day,
King's is a Catholic college," she said,
noting the residence is committed to informing
students about the potential dangers of sexual
"But for an education institution that is
directly linked with the Catholic church to
actually engage in providing (condoms) is against
Catholic teaching. So we make that distinction."
A statement released by Bechard echoed those
"Employees of the college are aware of the
Catholic mission of the college and . . . need
to respect the teachings and uphold them,"
the chaplain wrote.
"The position of the Roman Catholic church
on premarital sex and on artificial contraception
has been articulated . . . on a number of occasions."
The issue has proved divisive among the 18 residence
assistants at King's, but one colleague is
supportive of Grace's stance.
While she isn't sure whether she would hand out
condoms, Paris Meilleur, a second-year student,
called the school policy impractical.
"I would much rather have a student come
to me at midnight and say, 'I need a condom,'
than to come to me the next morning and say,
'I'm pregnant,' or 'I have AIDS,' " Meilleur
Grace, who was also a residence assistant last
year, had a folder on his door filled with
condoms that read: If you choose sex, be smart
This year, he hadn't put the sign up before being
fired, he said.
Residence employees handing out condoms is nothing
new, said a student who lived at King's two
"Obviously (Grace) is not the first RA to
do it because my RAs did it," the former
resident said. "People are having sex
and . . . it just makes sense. The thought
never even crossed my mind that this might
be bad. To pretend that (sex) doesn't happen
Until now, however, school officials hadn't heard
of such a case, Watters said.
"This won't be going on in a formal way
where a paid employee of the college is openly
providing them," she said.
"We make a distinction between what is done
in a professional capacity and what is done
in a personal capacity."
Despite losing his job, Grace won't be forced
out of the residence, she added.
As a Catholic, Grace said he has no problem with
church teachings -- but stressed his role,
ultimately, was to care for the health and
safety of students.
"Church doctrine, a lot of great things
can come from it," he said, "but
ultimately the students need to come first."
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