Convivium discusses sexual culture

By Joy Moton | Reporter

A group of 52 students gathered to engage in a facilitated discussion with a Baylor professor and his teaching assistant about the sexual culture of modern society Friday evening.

Dr. Ralph Wood, a University professor of Theology and Literature along with doctoral candidate Rachel Toombs discussed various aspects surrounding the hook up culture and purity culture.

Wood said the world has obtained a highly sexualized culture that is ambiguous and nearly frightening.

“We live in a world now so totally sexualized that we have no protocol for courting,” Wood said.

Toombs said the hook up culture has had a number of negative effects on measure of self-worth and the portrayal of women. It has yielded a trend of praising men for how much sexual activity they can engage in and shaming women for being sexually active.

“Women are coerced to silence, they’re not supposed to have opinions as loudly,” said Toombs.

Both shed light on the backfiring effect of the purity culture which can produce an eagerness to get married to fulfill the long awaited yearnings to have sex. They warned that sex is a minimal part of marriage.

“Marriage is not a romantic relationship, it’s a unity,” Toombs said.

Wood explained that getting to know someone is the highest form of genuine intimacy there is.

“Strong friendships are one of the best preparations for marriage,” Wood said.

Toombs ended the discussion by telling students that humans are physically vulnerable creatures and it will cost them something if they are are reckless with their bodies.

“Having sexual power over someone is not real power,” Toombs said. “Your power is in your intellect, gifts and abilities.”

This discussion was facilitated by a group of students that created a gathering called Convivium. It is a place for students to engage in intellectually stimulating conversation guided by a professor. New Orleans senior Luke Ungarino organized the setting with seven of his former roommates last year out of a desire to make a difference on campus in an intellectual yet accessible way.

“It was really born out of a deep respect for our professors; seeing their ability to guide discussions and wanting to bring that home,” Ungarino said.

Ungarino said the word convivium is Latin for “drinking party.” The gathering consists of food, fellowship and facilitated discussion. The group’s leadership gets together at the beginning of the semester to map out what topics they want to cover and which professors are most fitted to guide the talk. Students particularly appreciate the relevance of the topics that are chosen.

“I think the topic of the hook up culture at Baylor is something that is so often overlooked,” said Florida senior Maddy Stotlemyer. “The general consensus is that there is not a hook up culture at Baylor or that this is something that couldn’t exist at a Baptist school but in all reality, it’s very real within our students and I think it’s super beneficial to discuss it in a way that has a helping outlook.”

Students also appreciate the expertise and practicality of professors that guide discussions.

“He has extremely good insight to the culture coming from a place of experience,” said Washington senior Elayne Allen. “She approaches these issues through also deep wisdom and a place of cultural understanding while also adhering to the Christian truths.”

Professors from outside of Baylor also speak at Convivium.

“Last year we had a visiting Oxford don talk on CS Lewis,” Ungarino said. “We also had Stanley Hauerwas who was named the TIME theologian of the year.”

The leaders at Convivium hope that the group will continue to expand as they meet throughout the semester.

“We actually don’t want this to be something that’s primarily honor student oriented,” Allen said. “We want every type of person at Baylor to be welcome here.”