10th Annual Love & Fidelity Network Conference at Princeton

Four students from Notre Dame’s Students for Child Oriented Policy (SCOP) attended this year’s Love and Fidelity Conference at Princeton University on October 27 and 28. Centering on the theme “Sexuality, Integrity, and the University,” the conference featured several speakers covering the topics. The conference hosted 250 attendees from like-minded student organizations at a wide variety of schools including Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Ave Maria, and Catholic University of America. In between speeches, the students had the opportunity to socialize and connect with one another while enjoying Princeton’s campus.

Friday featured Dr. Robert George, an esteemed legal and political philosopher who holds the McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence at Princeton, who delivered the keynote address entitled Academic Freedom, Self-Mastery, and Liberal Arts.

During his speech, George laid down foundations for the rest of the conference.  He outlined what he argued is the true purpose of the university: to be a place where students should grow as individuals as they encounter the truth through intellectual discourse. This purpose and mission of the university, according to George, is tied together intimately with the pursuit of the liberal arts because the goal of the liberal arts and the university are one and the same, to liberate the mind in order to conform one’s life to truth. However, he pointed out that as an increasing amount of students disregard the concept of objective truth, the liberal arts struggles to flourish.

George further argued that money is neither a good nor end in itself, but merely a means towards a good. Truth is the ultimate telos to which every human person should orient themselves. And a true university will help its students access that truth.

On Saturday, topics ranged from technology to transgenderism to pornography. Ashley McGuire started off by discussing her book, Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female, in which she analyzed the impact that a mindset of gender fluidity has on the culture, women in particular.

Princeton junior and co-president of the university’s pro-life club, Ally Cavazos, told the Rover that she “really liked Ashley McGuire’s talk. She did a great job at explaining how women’s rights actually rely on the recognition that women’s and men’s bodies are different.”

Following McGuire, Dr. Ryan Anderson discussed his new book entitled When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement. Anderson addressed an issue that most people would rather forget existed or are too afraid to speak about because of their lack of knowledge. Dr. Anderson presented the historical precedents leading to our present state of social affairs and detailed extensively our current state.

Drawing from a wide range of sources, including transgender school material taught to students of all ages, testimonies of those who have undergone sexual reassignment surgery (SRS), and the advice the medical community gives to parents of children as young as three who desire to change their sex, Anderson presented a side of the transgender debate never shown in the media. This is the side which realizes that SRS is nothing but a band-aid fix to a much deeper problem, one which often continues even after surgeries.

One of the Notre Dame conference attendees, Jim Martinson, shared with the Rover that he “loved meeting students from all over the country who had nothing in common except their desire to protect traditional views on family, marriage, and the growth and development of children. The esteemed speakers helped me realize how fundamental the family structure is to the continuation of society.”

Additionally, Notre Dame’s own Dr. Brett Robinson and Jessica Keating presented on Saturday afternoon their talk “Technology and Sexuality: How Tuning In and Turning On Has Created a Nation of Sexual Dropouts.” Their talk delved into the power the internet, especially porn, has on the human psyche, and how, in effect, we are often using it to escape the real world, just as previous generations used drugs such as LSD. As internet becomes increasingly integrated into daily life, this perspective is quickly disappearing, and therefore needs to be heard all the more.

Notre Dame senior Tierney Vrdolyak, another conference attendee, told the Rover that “the SIU conference reaffirmed my belief in the beautiful view of marriage that has been espoused well before our university’s founding. It has reinvigorated me to openly engage with Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff about issues facing families today … One talk, ‘When Harry Became Sally’ was especially informative. Ryan Anderson approached the transgender movement by suggesting there has been a shift in ontology, into the very understanding of a human person, which has infiltrated into the court, school, and medical systems.”

As Saturday concluded, students were reminded by Sherif Girgis, co-author with Ryan Anderson and Robert George of What is Marriage?, to always promote the truth with good cheer and serene confidence, because the truth will ultimately win.

Therese Douglass is a freshman hoping to study in the Program of Liberal Studies. She loved visiting Princeton’s campus in the fall. She can be reached at tdougla4@nd.edu.