A new sexual revolution has hit the Ivy League, with formation of a student group promoting chastity and abstinence outside of marriage at traditionally liberal Princeton University.
The Anscombe Society exists to provide a voice for conservative sexual values in a campus atmosphere that members say not only tolerates but encourages promiscuity, according to recent articles in the New York Times and The Times of Trenton, N.J.
Officially recognized as a student group in February, the society is named after Elizabeth Anscombe, a British philosopher popular in both academic and conservative Catholic intellectual circles, who died in 1981.
An early opponent of legalized abortion, Anscombe in 1968 wrote a paper titled “Contraception and Chastity,” which defended Pope Paul VI’s controversial reaffirmation of Catholic teaching against artificial birth control.
While members reportedly tend to be Catholic and politically conservative, leaders insist the group is completely secular and welcomes people of any or no faith. Still, its presence has created a stir on campus, where some question the university’s funding of a group that opposes abortion and homosexuality. As an approved organization, the society is also allowed to use university rooms for meetings and maintain a presence on the Princeton Web site.
“The overall goal of the Anscombe Society is to provide intellectual engagement and social support for fostering a sexual and familial ethic,” according to the group’s mission statement.
“We aim to promote and encourage an atmosphere where sex is dignified, respectful and beautiful; where human relationships are affirming and supportive; where motherhood is not put at odds with feminism; and where no one is objectified, instrumentalized or demeaned,” the statement says.
“We aim to increase the level of respect among members of the university community who disagree on these issues as we explore our common understandings as well as our differences,” it continues.
“Lastly, we hope to provide those students who strive to understand, live and love their commitment to chastity and ‘traditional’ sexual and familial ethics with the support they need.”
Specific goals include to “promote the intellectual foundations for sexual and familial ethics,” by directing students to scholarly works of philosophy, ethics, psychology, theology and other disciplines as they apply to sex, gender and family issues.
The group also aims “to provide a support network for a minority group of students–those with commitments to living a chaste life and with commitments to a pro-woman, pro-motherhood feminism.”
By bringing students who value chastity together to learn from each other and provide a network of support, the group hopes to “help those students committed to what is truly an ‘alternative lifestyle’ on our campus to lead richer lives.”
According to the New York Times, students with conservative upbringings say they feel bombarded by sexual messages at Princeton.
“I remember my freshman year, in my hallway at Forbes, we went to our residential adviser for our study break, and there with the soda pop and the chips was a bowl with flavored condoms,” said Joan Claire Krautmann, a senior from Salem, Ore. “So immediately, when you get on campus, you’re just bombarded with sexual material, and it’s a whole different atmosphere from my Catholic high school upbringing.”
Princeton officials responded that information about sexuality is better than ignorance.
“The university does not take a position on the sex lives of our students, but we do take care to make them aware of health and safety issues,” said Eric QuiÃ±ones, a university spokesman. “Our students are exposed to a variety of viewpoints through organizations such as this one, and this is an environment where students, hopefully, can learn all sides of the issues.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.