By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer
The Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center brought students, faculty and food together for Love Feast, a potluck held Tuesday evening.
The BARC partnered with Better Together Days, a weeklong program hosted jointly by Multicultural Affairs and Spirituality and Public Life, to host the event. The Love Feast gave students of all different backgrounds a chance to come together and show their support for each other and all of the groups represented at Baylor.
Lilly Ettinger, assistant director of wellness and recovery services for the BARC, said the event was important for supporting students who utilize the BARC’s usual services.
“Every year we here at the BARC have struggled to deal with Dia because it’s a rough day if you’re a student in recovery, especially if part of your drinking or using career was here at Baylor,” Ettinger said. “We really just wanted to have this event on campus at the end of Dia celebrating sobriety and celebrating what it means to be a good neighbor.”
Despite being planned far in advance, controversy surrounding Matt Walsh’s Tuesday night visit to Baylor shifted perception of the Love Feast. The event’s official purpose was to promote togetherness and community and provide a safe place for recovering students to celebrate Dia. According to Mansfield senior Kendall Curstis, a co-leader for Better Together, the LGBTQ community rallied around the event to provide an alternative to Walsh’s speech.
“Our goal of this event was to really just make sure that people felt welcome on campus, especially the LGBT community with some of the rhetoric that’s been going around about that,” Curtis said. “Really the goal was just to spread positivity and love as a counter to some of the conflict that’s been going on.”
Ettinger said that the unintended shift in meeting reflected the Baylor community’s willingness to come together.
“The event was planned before [the Walsh controversy]… I can’t deny that that clearly has had an impact on outcome, but I think that’s a really good testament to how Baylor students decide to find healthy events rather than just be angry… Obviously we’re always supporting students in recovery… but I definitely think the event took on a new life.” Ettinger said.
Gilbert, Ariz. senior Samuel Lin said the Love Feast provided a place for students to come together and feel confident sharing who they are, and that he thought Walsh’s visit to campus drove some of the increased student interest.
“The nature of the posters that were posted and the nature of the speaker that’s speaking right now, that probably honestly influenced some people to come out,” Lin said. “It’s just to show support to all of our students on campus, including those who might not be as represented by administration and faculty.”
Lin also said it was important to be open to sharing ideas while also being accepting of others.
“This goes for everyone, including people who consider themselves conservatives and people who consider themselves liberals. I think both sides should be able to have the opportunity to share and talk about their point of view,” Lin said. “We’re all still Baylor students at heart.”
David Jortner, an associate professor of theater arts, said Walsh’s visit acted as a “catalyst” for LGBTQ support on campus. Jortner has a personal connection with the LGBTQ community, which he said was his reason for attending the Love Feast.
“I have gay members of my extended family, I have had gay students… so I’m just here showing my support for them,” Jortner said.