"Big Four" Highlights


True Love on Campus

Chastity network offers Valentine’s gift to students

Many parents rightfully worry about the party scene when their kids go off to college. While some colleges and universities, particularly Catholic ones, have done their best to promote chastity, there is a pervasive “hook-up culture” at other institutions of higher learning. Around Valentine’s Day, many stage Sex Week events.

The Love and Fidelity Network, a national program that aims to equip college students with the resources, arguments, and support they need to uphold the institution of marriage and the integrity of human sexuality, is taking a different approach this week. For the seventh year, the college and university groups that form the Love and Fidelity Network are engaging in a nationwide campaign to host discussions, speakers, and other initiatives that promote healthy dating and relationship attitudes. LFN director Caitlin Seery spoke to Fathers for Good.

Fathers for Good: What’s your campaign all about?

Caitlin Seery of Love and Fidelity Network.

Caitlin Seery: Every year around Valentine’s Day we try to conduct a campus-based campaign that promotes healthy relationships, authentic love, an alternative to what students often hear, both internally on campus but also externally, that really reflects the hook-up mentality and the hook-up culture much more than it inspires authentic love and healthy relationships.

So in conjunction with students at about 25 schools, we’re working to put together this campaign. The centerpiece consists of these posters with the tagline “#love. Make yours a story not a tweet,” the idea being the hook-up culture kind of resembles a tweet. It’s superficial, it’s short-lived, it’s very impersonal, it’s kind of gossipy, it’s not a great form of communication. And we’d rather think of love as connected, as a story.

FFG: Is Sex Week pretty widespread on campuses now?

Seery: It is pretty widespread. A lot of schools have Sex Week or are starting Sex Week. The University of Chicago started it last year, and Emory is starting this year. It also exists at Harvard and a number of other schools where students will be hanging up these posters. When it comes to Sex Week, pornography screenings are the tip of the iceberg. On top of that a lot of schools put together a Valentine’s Day edition of the student newspaper featuring scantily-clad classmates and columns featuring sex tips, among other things. Condom giveaways are often a feature of campus programming this time of year, too.

FFG: How does your group counter all this?

Seery: We hope the “#love. Make yours a story not a tweet” campaign will lead people to the great resources available on our website, but it’s also just meant in and of itself to inspire people to think a little more deeply about what they’re doing romantically. It’s meant to give people permission to take Valentine’s weekend off from hooking up, to alleviate some of the pressure students feel to engage in the hook-up culture, especially around Valentine’s Day. Our aim is simply to get students to think about the way they treat people in their life, to connect their love lives in a more integrated way with the rest of their life story. The online components of the campaign will link to loveandfidelity.org, where we will feature campaign-related blog posts and students can find all sorts of resources about authentic sexuality and relationships.

FFG: You talk about pressure students feel to engage in the hook-up culture. Where does that pressure come from?

Seery: The kinds of programming and events typically happening on campuses around Valentine’s Day, like condom giveaways and Sex Week, set the tone that hooking-up is normal, harmless, fun — and that everyone is doing it. This alienates those who choose not to participate in the hook-up culture, and by normalizing it puts pressure on students to take part. This type of programming makes students who don’t participate feel like they are missing out.

FFG: Is LFN a student organization?

Seery: The Love and Fidelity Network is the principal program of the Collegiate Cultural Foundation which is an independent 501c3 organization. The staff work very closely to support students, so we have what we call Student Fellows at about 25 schools throughout the country. We work directly with them, mentoring them, offering them opportunities for funding for their events, helping to connect them with speakers and other students to exchange ideas and pass on what works on campus, fun ideas for other programs they can do. That’s our goal, to facilitate that network.

FFG: How did you get involved?

Seery: I graduated from Princeton in 2009, majoring in politics, and spent a couple of years in New York in consulting. I became more and more convicted about the lies we were told about the hookup culture while in college — that it was a phase people would go through and would be over once people got out of college or it didn’t really have lasting impact, that it wasn’t really bad for people. It became so abundantly clear from witnessing so many people getting hurt by the hookup culture and I realized that instead of getting better it got worse, and more dangerous, post-college. So that really convicted me about these issues. I started writing and blogging about them, and then this opportunity to join the Love and Fidelity Network arose.

Learn more about the Love and Fidelity Network.