The following comes from a July 5 piece by Derry Connolly published by the Cardinal Newman Society.
In late September of each year, a new cohort of young women and men arrive in Escondido, Calif., to begin their college career at John Paul the Great Catholic University (JPCatholic). For many, it marks the beginning of a new life away from the family they have been part of their whole life. Most students enter fresh out of high school.
The college experience will embed a set of core values that many will adopt for the rest of their lives. Often college graduates embrace a new set of ethics that can be very much at odds with those of their parents. But parents and students who choose JPCatholic or other Newman Guide colleges and universities do it for a singularly important reason: the preservation of values that they consider the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46).
The moral responsibilities and obligations of in loco parentis (in the place of a parent) in our increasingly predatory and often times destructive culture require considerable institutional diligence and commitment. Student success is more than academic gain; it is also seeing the growth and the maturation of a healthy and well-rounded relationship with Jesus and how in particular that relationship edifies students’ dating and ultimate marriage commitments.
The Catholic University in Our Contemporary Cultural Context
Pope St. John Paul the Great wrote in Ex corde Ecclesiae, “[The University] has always been recognized as an incomparable center of creativity and dissemination of knowledge for the good of humanity.” Our patron continues that the Catholic university, as it confronts the great problems of society and culture, must have “an ongoing reflection, in the light of the Catholic faith, upon the growing treasury of human knowledge” and lists this as one of the four essential characteristics of the Catholic university.
In our pluralistic society, people derive their guiding moral principles from diverse and contradictory sources. Our contemporary culture has totally decoupled sex from love and procreation. Sex is now largely for recreation, and the innate human longing for commitment in a sexual relationship is coldly ignored. Our society has largely abandoned marriage as the basis for family and the foundational building block of society. Coupled with abortion and contraception, we face a complete loss of family structure. The pain this inflicts on children is incalculable.
As a Catholic university, our moral compass is guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ, as preserved by the Catholic Church. We are not delusional; we are counter-cultural. We do not expect the rest of the world to follow our practices. As an institution, we must always focus on the principles that guide our policies and practices and our strong desire to shape the whole human person.
The Formation of Students and the Campus Bedroom
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans (12:2) pleads, “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
At JPCatholic, our overarching goal is to help all of our students on their path to holiness. Our institutional mission is to form students whose mission in life is a yearning to Impact Culture for Christ. This serious and demanding responsibility requires our on-campus spiritual formation to enable our students to develop and nurture a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It also requires our students to develop competencies and leverage practical and contemporary assets effective for impacting culture.
Student formation is thus core to our mission, and it requires significant effort. Pope St. John Paul the Great proposed a four-pillar model of formation for the whole person. His model is more than the core intellectual formation function of the institution, which is often the easiest component of formation to deliver. It also includes the student’s spiritual and human formation, along with the formation for mission, which for us is to Impact Culture for Christ.
Living on campus is a key element of student life and of student formation. Almost all colleges and universities, including most Catholic ones, allow inter-visitation within student housing. JPCatholic does not.
Not surprisingly, what happens in a student’s bedroom impacts in significant ways all dimensions of the student formation process. Proper sleeping and studying have indeed a significant impact on successful intellectual formation. In addition, the trends in college living arrangements broadly indicate that casual sexual encounters in the student’s bedroom are facilitated and acceptable. This is counter to our Christian principles of avoiding temptation and striving for righteousness — living in conformity with God’s will.
A positive upside to our bar on inter-visitation is that it fosters more communal social activities with larger groups, such as meeting up at the park or pool, or working on projects together on campus, which in turn leads to better and more diverse friendships.
Inter-visitation can undoubtedly be a major source of division and tension among roommates. For the student who is dating, it is cool, convenient and desirable, but it also increases the pressure on couples to move to the next level of intimacy in their dating. And, it severely detracts from the privacy, the study, and the sleeping environment for their roommates.
I expect students will never stop asking for a more liberal inter-visitation — it is human nature. Our society is full of well-meaning and very nice people, who find the best solution for every human demand is to give in to the requests of the loud voices of the seemingly oppressed. Scripture teaches us not to give in to every request. “If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord will bestow her upon you. For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline; faithfulness and humility are his delight” (Sirach 1: 25-27).
Melding together the realities of our pluralistic secular culture, our particular Catholic, Christian worldview and our commitment to St. John Paul II’s model for the formation of the full human person, it is not difficult to understand our rationale for not allowing inter-visitation between opposite sexes in our student apartments. Our student apartments are places for them to grow in holiness, to study, to sleep, to eat and to relax.
As a country, we are at a cultural crossroads. We live in a time of increasing sexual dysfunction and family breakdown in the guise of understanding and tolerance. Evil people nuance the Word of God to legitimize perversion.
Forming young men and young women ready and willing to take on the mission to Impact culture for Christ requires a deep and personal relationship with Jesus that comes through holiness. JPCatholic seeks the truth and builds our campus culture and formation process on the teachings of Jesus Christ. We make critical decisions on student success and formation, broadly understood, guided by core scriptural principles. To reinforce the ideal of students pursuing holiness where they live, and to a true and proper Christian understanding of human sexuality, we do not allow inter-visitation to the apartments of the opposite sex within our student housing. We emphasize that the bedroom of the single student is for sleeping, studying and growing in holiness, and not for casual sexual encounters.