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Sperm donation fliers create controversy

By ,  |  Thursday, December 8, 2011 1:03 AM

Fliers advertising sperm donation for 123Donate.com’s Roseville, Minn. donation office have been catching student and administrators’ eyes around the St. Thomas campus in recent weeks.

Some students said they feel St. Thomas is not the right place for these advertisements, while others are indifferent.

Senior Rachel Berg said she thought the fliers should be removed.

“It’s a little inappropriate. It doesn’t go in with the Catholic statements at St. Thomas,” Berg said.

Posters advertising a sperm donation company have been posted around campus. Father John Malone says the posters are indecent and go against the teachings of the Catholic church. (Briggs LeSavage/TommieMedia)

Posters advertising a sperm donation company have been posted around campus. Father John Malone says the posters are indecent and go against the teachings of the Catholic church. (Briggs LeSavage/TommieMedia)

Junior Todd Baron agreed and said that although he found aspects of the advertisements humorous, St. Thomas is not the appropriate venue.

“It’s just not something you do in school for money here,” Baron said “It’s like saying ‘Let’s not do job applications, or go work, let’s just sell our sperm instead.’”

Other students like sophomore Aaron Brown don’t see the advertisements as controversial.

“I just don’t think it’s a big deal. Just because it’s a Catholic university doesn’t mean everyone’s Catholic,” Brown said. “But hopefully it doesn’t offend anybody.”

Junior Shalaw Mohammed said these advertisements could be “sketchy” but was not bothered by the fliers.

“It’s just people trying to make money,” Mohammed said.

The fliers have been prominently posted throughout the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center and near the north entrance to Aquinas Hall.

Director of Campus Life Margaret Cahill said the fliers are not subject to approval unless hung in the Murray-Herrick Campus Center building.

Cahill was unaware of any approval process for other buildings on campus.

The Rev. John Malone, vice president for Mission, said the controversy over these fliers could spark a central system for approving advertisements in any St. Thomas building, and he intends to suggest one.

“I think that we, as a Catholic institution, have to live up to what the basic teachings are, and the teachings of the Catholic church are that artificial insemination is beneath the level of appropriate means of procreation,” Malone said.

Malone sees the fliers’ content as unseemly and added that they are very explicit and inappropriate for a Catholic campus.

“(The flier) is kind of disgusting,” Malone said. “It has gone to a level of bad taste even if you approved of the notion. . . . When I see them, I take them down.”

Malone said the poster he saw hanging in Aquinas didn’t use the word “semen,” but was still obvious in what it was advertising.

“Anybody that’s taken a biology course could see,” Malone said.

Although the Catholic Church opposes artificial insemination, Malone said the Church endorses research and medical improvement on fertility and supports helping infertile people have a family.

Briggs LeSavage can be reached at lesa4364@stthomas.edu.

This item was posted in Featured News and has 22 comments so far.

22 Comments

  1. Landon Rick
    Dec. 8, 2011 11:10 AM

    I thought Christians were supposed to be tolerant? Taking those fliers down is like saying you shouldn’t allow women that use contraception (i.e. “the pill”) to attend UST either. 

  2. Dick Houck, ’51
    Dec. 8, 2011 12:12 PM

    Such advertising material posted on St. Thomas campus, as a private Catholic school, is more than “a little inappropriate.” It is totally against the teaching and beliefs of the Catholic Church, and as such should be banned and the company notified that their material will not be allowed on campus. Although, as one student stated, not all students attending St. Thomas are Catholic, as a Catholic school, only material that reflects Catholic teaching should be allowed. Those of other religious persuasions who attend St. Thomas must accept the fact that the school is primarily and exclusively Catholic and professes and teaches Catholic dogma. Those who disagree with or who want other philosophies can find other schools to attend that reflect their personal beliefs. St. Thomas should set policies that are in complete conformance with all Catholic teachings.

    Dick Houck, ’51

  3. Michael Blissenbach
    Dec. 8, 2011 1:26 PM

    Kudos to Fr. Malone and some students at St. Thomas for standing for orthodoxy at my alma mater. Hopefully fliers like this one will not be permitted in the future.

  4. Ryan O’Shaughnessy
    Dec. 8, 2011 2:24 PM

    Landon: If by tolerant you mean saying sinful actions are okay, then no. That’s completely against Christianity. Many people have this erroneous notion that being loving means being tolerant, and by tolerant they really mean accepting. Christian love bears evil but it does not tolerate it and always works to weed it out. Bishop Fulton Sheen puts it very well: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0014.html

  5. Kameron Kantor
    Dec. 8, 2011 3:46 PM

    Landon, I think that you forget that all things are loved by God, but only if they’re 110% Catholic.  Women who take contraception and men who wear condoms are allowed here because they have $40,000.  We cannot program about safe sex and offer students contraceptives because people don’t have sex unless they’re married.  I was also confused about this when I got here, but UST has shown me the light!

  6. Peter Wagner
    Dec. 8, 2011 4:34 PM

    Romans 14: 1-4

    As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

  7. Don Nollet
    Dec. 8, 2011 8:11 PM

    What better donors than young college students in their prime? Might actually improve the gene pool. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

  8. Leah Miller
    Dec. 8, 2011 8:42 PM

    I completely understand and love the fact that this is a Catholic School, lets act like it is as well. But above all, the signs were pretty sketch.

  9. Ryan O’Shaughnessy
    Dec. 9, 2011 1:18 AM

    @ Peter: What?

    @ Kameron: I’m not sure what the aim of your comment was, but programs about safe sex and contraceptives aren’t allowed because the sexual act entails a total gift-of-self to the other which is only appropriate within a marriage, and still then part of its purpose is to bring forth children. Sex isn’t a toy to be used casually for fun, and to program about safe-sex and offer contraceptives is to compromise that reality and greatly devalue sex.

  10. Landon Rick
    Dec. 9, 2011 5:10 AM

    @Ryan: If you were born 1,000 years ago somewhere in the Middle East, do you think you would still be a Catholic/Christian? 

  11. Ryan O’Shaughnessy
    Dec. 9, 2011 5:48 PM

    Who could tell? My life, personality, and surroundings would be completely different. I wouldn’t be the same person. What are you trying to get at?

  12. Landon Rick
    Dec. 11, 2011 4:04 AM

    @Ryan: the point is that the Catholic faith you follow and the dogma you preach so strongly about is so relative to where/when you were born, how you were raised, etc… Would Jesus Christ (a Jew) believe in all the Catechisms of the Catholic faith? 

  13. Landon Rick
    Dec. 11, 2011 4:09 AM

    I’m curious as to how signs selling “Indulgences” on campus would go? 

  14. Ryan O’Shaughnessy
    Dec. 11, 2011 4:16 PM

    God willed me into existence twenty-one years ago and used the specific circumstances of my life to bring me to the Church, were it His will to do it one thousand years ago I’m sure He would have done so.

    That said, whether or not I would be Catholic were I born then has no bearing on the universality of the Catholic faith (catholic meaning “universal”). St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) once wrote, “It is called Catholic then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men’s knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and it because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.”

    The Catholic faith then is not relative, quite the opposite in fact. The Catholic Church is overwhelmingly universal and the fact that it has survived two-thousand years and continues to flourish amidst every kind of adversity attests…

  15. Kamal Mohamed
    Dec. 11, 2011 6:39 PM

    I find it baffling sometimes that we get into these type of arguments. I am not catholic but I attend a catholic school. Thus, I should respect the beliefs of the institution whether or not they align with mine. If not there is the U of M. If the University and the church does not want signs up that contradicts their beliefs, then it is their right. Plain and Simple. I hate it when people come to Saint Thomas and act like victims when the school does not bend over backwards and “accept” their views or beliefs. If you want to share your beliefs that does not match the catholic university, attend theology and philosophy classes. Have debates in clubs, etc. 

  16. Dick Houck, ’51
    Dec. 12, 2011 10:14 AM

    Mr. Rick. Jesus would absolutely believe in ALL of the tenets of the catechism of the Catholic Church. It is the belief of Catholics that Jesus Christ, although a Jew, instituted the Catholic Church with all of the beliefs that we hold as True in the Church. If we didn’t believe that to be true, we would not be true to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Read the New Testiment and how Jesus began a new teaching and why he was rejected for that. That is what New means in New Testiment.

  17. Tyler Petersen
    Dec. 12, 2011 4:14 PM

    Personally, I think it’s a bit presumptuous (besides off topic) to forecast exactly what Jesus would think, say, or believe in the present day.

    Regardless, I have no problem seeing these outside flyers come down.  This has nothing to do with their content, however.  I would like them taken down for the same reason I would like all of the other outside flyers that litter OEC taken down.  When groups that are not affiliated with UST advertise in the same space as many on-campus clubs and organizations, it causes an “information overload” that likely has an adverse impact on the advertising efforts of UST-funded groups and events.  For example, someone is far less likely to read a flyer for “insert your favorite club here” if it’s surrounded by a Sperm Donor poster, an ad for a Kaplan GRE prep course, and a request for someone in the neighborhood for a babysitter.  Quite simply, it’s too much for someone passing by to absorb.  I think that campus space should be used to primarily promote campus stuff.  There seem to already be campus resources available to direct people to many of the things posted in OEC, like academic services, the career development center, academic departments, etc. (well, unless you’re looking for sperm donors, obviously).

  18. Chris Huber
    Dec. 14, 2011 1:53 PM

    What a silly notion, Dick. Jesus would believe in all the tenets of the Catholic church because the Catholic church believes he would? Such logic only holds water as long as you assume as an axiom that the ultimate truths of reality can be divined from a particular interpretation of a book of barbaric old fairy tales. Thankfully, they cannot.

  19. Ryan O’Shaughnessy
    Dec. 15, 2011 1:39 AM

    Jesus gave Peter (the first pope) and his successors teaching authority when he said “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” and that Hell would not prevail against the Church (Mt. 16:13-20). He also promised the Holy Spirit to the Church forever to remind us of everything Jesus taught us (Jn 14: 16; 26).

    That probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to somebody who isn’t Christian, but basically the Bible (which is inspired by God) is saying that Jesus gave teaching authority to the Church as His vicar and promised supernatural assistance to the Church to preserve it from error in its teachings. Thus the claim that the Church’s teachings are what Jesus Himself would’ve taught isn’t something contrived by Catholics, but was the belief of Christians from its earliest days and is contained in Christ’s own words. That’s not to say that people in the Church are always right, we’re sinful humans and we often stray. It does mean, however, that the teachings of the Church as a whole won’t fall into error.

    I’m curious though, Chris, what makes you think the Bible is just barbaric old fairy tales?

  20. Mary Kenkel
    Dec. 15, 2011 2:17 PM

    Was this an issue on campus before TommieMedia published a story on it? The headline states there was controversy with the posters, yet the only debate seems to be created through TM interviews in the story and now through the comment section. Interviewing people with opposing viewpoints doesn’t make something newsworthy. It just creates the allusion of a “controversial” story, that was just created by the news organization. TM is better than that.

  21. Michael Blissenbach
    Dec. 16, 2011 1:10 PM

    Well done, Ryan! A clarification of a point you make, though. It is the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, that is, the Pope and the bishops in communion with him, that are protected from falling into error. I think that’s what you meant but I wanted to clarify that.

  22. Mary Clare Wareham
    Dec. 23, 2011 6:58 PM

    Where does one begin? There is so much that is of darkness here…”selling” of one’s life-giving capabilities, when instead conjugal love is a sacred grace-filled action in cooperation with God…denying a child the ability to ever know his father…a “father” separating himself from his child…the immorality of the practice itself involved in obtaining semen….but perhaps the saddest thing is that our beautiful young people have to live in the midst of such things! It was not always so. Jesus, please come! Show us all that You… and living in You is Light and Truth! Holy Mary come with your Angels and flood our souls with your purity and innocence! Holy Spirit send your fire and restore all creation according to the original plan of God our Father!

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