I am writing as a proud alumna of the University of Dallas, who is concerned about the university’s new sex policy, which, as it stands now, allows the university to punish students who engage in pre-marital sex.
First, let me say that, as a married Catholic woman, I believe fully in the Church’s teachings regarding sexuality. I met my husband at UD, and I am grateful every day that our relationship could grow and develop there. UD provided a Catholic environment with strong moral foundations and support from like-minded friends while giving us the space to develop our relationship as adults.
But it never monitored how we behaved. In a word, it required us to take responsibility for our relationship. Now, six and a half years since we started dating (Groundhog 2014!), one of the things that I am most proud of in my life to-date is that my husband and I waited until marriage to have sex. It has been one of the most profound blessings and strengths of our marriage. I am proud to be counter-cultural in that way. I am proud that one of the ways my husband and I have been called to be examples of Catholics to the world is through our commitment to each other in marriage. Have I received eye-rolls and gasps throughout my life? Yes, many. Despite this, it never deterred me from remaining convicted and it is never something I apologize for, nor for which am I embarrassed.
With that being said, saving oneself for marriage is not easy. Although I was instructed from a very young age regarding the Catholic Church’s teachings on sex and marriage, I would not have had the strength to commit to this teaching had I not been given the opportunity to become personally convicted. I am a rule-follower by nature, but I believe it is safe to say that rules do not deter behavior nearly as successfully as personal convictions do.
My concern with the school’s new policy is that it misses an opportunity to prioritize having conversations––and yes, likely a few awkward ones––with its students because it hopes that the rule, the consequences and the public shame will be deterrents enough. Maybe it does not hope this consciously, but it doesn’t take much effort to read between the lines, nor to predict the potential social and communal fallout from such a policy.
I am no longer on campus, and I do not know how the administration plans on carrying out this policy, but I would encourage the university to focus their efforts more on education and conversation. Provide space for students to become acquainted with why the Church teaches what it does. Many great minds throughout the Church’s history have pondered this question. How many of our students can explain and discuss why the church teaches what it does, as opposed to saying, “Well, my parents told me this.”
Hold reading groups, host lectures and have the uncomfortable conversations that lead to greater understanding. Please do not miss an opportunity to engage with the students. If I know UD students, then I know one thing for certain. If they are given the opportunity to dialogue, they will show up.
When I was a freshman, the school invited Jason Evert to speak about chastity before marriage. To this day, I have never seen any event or class at UD as filled as the auditorium in Gorman Hall was; it was standing room only.
Finally, a word to all the students who are angry, upset or, worst of all, confused. Do not let any frustration, anger or resentment allow you to react against the policy for the sake of sticking it to the man. No amount of desire to be rebellious will spark the change you want. Your heart, your soul and your future vocation are not worth it.
Rachel Remmes BA ‘14