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
Saturday, 9/19: “Birth Control, Rape Culture, & Catholic Higher Education: Why Aren’t We Even Teaching What We Already Know?” Christine McCarthy, Fordham University
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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.