It’s 8 p.m. on DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus and in the office of Catholic Campus Ministry an intimate discussion about healthy sexual relationships is taking place. Sex and the church have finally found one another and it’s taking place right on our campus.
Every Wednesday evening, Catholic Campus Ministries hosts an event called Catholic Community Nights. In honor of May being LGBTQ Awareness Month, the two campus groups teamed up to bring students an event aimed right at core of college life: sexual relationships.
SOS: Social, Online and Sexual, was a discussion-based event led by Dr. Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman. As a professor of theology at Saint Benedict and Saint John University, Zimmerman speaks about sexuality with many college students nationwide. Dr. Zimmerman delved right into the topic of modern dating culture she sees in college students and how establishing healthy personal relationships needs to be a priority.
“The amount of hookups that I see in these college students concerns me,” Zimmerman said. “I want you all to care because what the media is giving you, this false portrayal of love relationships doesn’t lead to conversations you should be having. Surface-level relationships make sex seem like the end-all be-all.”
It has become quite apparent that the dating game has changed. With technology in the palm of our hands we have left the older generation in the past and are progressive in our ability to communicate and form relationships with one another on the fly. This has created a dating culture that older generations can’t fathom, resulting in a lack of communication between teacher and pupil.
“Sex has run amok on college campuses, from campus sexual assault to hook up culture to a general lack of skills at interacting with peers who are potential partners,” Sheryl Overmyer, a Catholic studies professor and lead organizer of the event said. “Students are on the cutting edge of new technologies.”
Overmyer wanted the event to be a signal fire that the university is doing its part to foster these discussions that need to be had in an ever-changing student body. The digital revolution has left things lost in translation and vital communication skills are necessary to begin and maintain healthy sexual relationships.
“The older generation’s inability to enter the conversation has left college students adrift,” Overmyer said. “This means that they are connecting and communicating with others through an interface that older generations don’t even know about. Students don’t rely on traditional norms for courtship and dating. Most find that they (have) to make up things as they go. On a minor scale, this default trial-and-error method leaves a trail of broken and lonely, bleeding hearts, and taken to the extreme has directly contributed to the new highs in campus sex crimes.”
Since these conversations can’t be had in every DePaul classroom, it’s promising to see these conversations being had through campus sponsors like the Catholic Campus Ministries and the LGBTQ Student Services.
Sophomore Jordan Battaglia is the Catholic Community Night Coordinator for CCM and was quite satisfied with the discussion that took place between students and Zimmerman.
“There’s a difference between being around people who are different and challenge you in a positive way, encouraging you to think differently and form your own opinions, but accepting who you are, and being around people who challenge you in a negative way, only to bring you down. In my opinion, that’s what tonight’s discussion was about: thinking about what kind of people you want to surround yourself with in any relationship i.e. friendships, intimate and working relationships.”