Sexual Assault and Higher Education: An Octave of Theological Reflection. An Introduction.

It is a cruel and humbling fact of faith that religious sensibility does not curb the genetic predisposition of humanity to the allures of power, prestige, and violence.  Faith is not a genetic condition.  The desire for righteous behavior is not enough to live a life of holiness and love for the abused and oppressed.

Such must I introduce the difficult and extremely important topic of reflection for this week at Daily Theology, entitled “Sexual Assault and Higher Education: An Octave of Theological Reflection.”  Many of the authors, listen below, will not only write about higher education generally, but about Catholic higher education.  They may write about how such places fail to live up to their calling as Catholic when it comes to sexual crimes that occur on campus, in dormitories, by students, every day.  They may also, explicitly and implicitly, write about hope.  Not the wispy hope of a transcendental romantic, but the tangible hope that accepts anger, depression, suffering, and perceived weakness as a sign not of frailty but of an actual person in relationship with God.

Hope also, perhaps, that all systems of higher education will one day value the care of its abused students as much as they do development, expansion, and Division I sports.

I look forward to being part of the conversation with you.

Sunday, 9/13: The Casings of Our Heart:  Talking Honestly and Angrily about Campus Sexual Assault by Bridget O’Brien, University of Notre Dame

Monday, 9/14: Who Do We Say That We Are? Changing Institutional Culture Around Issues of Sex and Sexuality on Catholic Campuses by Katherine Greiner, Carroll College

Monday, 9/14, Addendum: Letter to the Editors: Freshman Daughter Drop Off” by Brianne Jacobs, Fordham University

Tuesday, 9/15:  Hookup Culture as Rape Culture:  A Shared Complicity by Megan McCabe, Boston College

Wednesday, 9/16: No More Fear. It’s Time For Christians to Talk about Sexual Violence by Jenny Peek, Yale Divinity School

Thursday, 9/17: “Accompanying Survivors: Holding Trauma and Doing It Well” by John DeCostanza, Dominican University

Friday, 9/18: “The Fragility of Hope: Resisting a Culture of Sexual Violence” by Lorraine Cuddeback, University of Notre Dame

Sunday, 9/20: Mary as the Immaculate Conception and Rape Culture: Actual Consent and Implied Consent by Katie O’Neill, St. Pius X in Mountlake Terrace, WA

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PS. I believe in the value of trigger warnings in liberal education. They do not exist to remove us from conversation but to help prepare our minds for discussions of challenging topics. More importantly, they assist those who have suffered traumatic experiences, as such persons often need extra preparation to discuss difficult topics. This said, if you plan to use this material in classrooms, discussions, or study groups–as I hope you will–please preface the material with an introduction to the topic and an invitation to help–whether by pointing to resources or by assisting yourself–those who might need help.  Thank you.