Center coverage in The Daily Princetonian

Only four days into the campaign for a University-sponsored Center for Abstinence and Chastity, The Daily Princetonian today published an article tracking the movement from its roots to this extraordinary week of events.  Stay tuned for videos of these events!

You can find the full article here or after the jump.

Students push for chastity center

By Gabriel Debenedetti
Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, October 15th, 2009
A group of students,  many of whom are Anscombe Society members, has
stepped up its efforts to lobby the University to launch a Center for
Abstinence and Chastity. The students have organized a series of events
with the goal of convincing Nassau Hall to establish a center, in the
style of the LGBT and Women’s centers, which would support students’
decision to live chastely and abstain from sex.

McGinley ’10, the president of Anscombe and a leader of the movement to
establish a center, said the group hopess “to make the University
social and sexual culture more conducive to students.”

Center would help] by rectifying the current double standard by which
the University implicitly gives its seal of approval to a more
libertarian view of sexuality,” he said.

McGinley is also a columnist for The Daily Princetonian.

said that Anscombe members had discussed the possibility of the
creation of a center “for a while” and began to consider it in earnest
in spring 2008. A group of supporters of the center has been in
constant contact with the administration since then while developing a
proposal, McGinley added.

This week, the group launched its
publicity campaign by handing out fliers across campus and hanging
posters that said, “It’s time for the Center for Abstinence and
Chastity.” Both sets of advertisements promote a series of events this
week endorsing the center. The Anscombe Society paid for the posters,
though not all advocates for the center are officially affiliated with
the society.

Monday morning, Anscombe also posted a petition
supporting the center on its website. McGinley said that 116 people
have signed so far. The petition also includes a question asking
signers whether they would consider donating to the cause, and McGinley
said 58 people expressed interest. After signing the initial petition
online, supporters are given the option of sending a form letter to
President Tilghman and Provost Christopher Eisgruber ’83 endorsing the
center’s creation.

Politics professor Robert George, who said he
supports the proposal, added that he believes it will be approved in
the future. “I think the strength of the idea will eventually carry it
through, so I’m confident,” he said. “But I’m subscribing to that old
wisdom, ‘If you predict the place, don’t predict the time. If you
predict the time, don’t predict the place.’ “

In an e-mail sent
in response to the petition signers, Tilghman wrote, “The question of
whether the University would sponsor the establishment of a ‘Center for
Abstinence and Chastity’ was raised with several members of the
University administration last year, and each of us provided the same
response, which was a firm ‘no.’ “

Tilghman explained that she
recognized the difficulties some students may face pursuing chaste
lifestyles, but said she did not think there was ample reason for a
chastity center to be established. “I understand that it is sometimes
difficult to stand up for what you believe when you are in the
minority, but the fact that you are greeted with opposing points of
view when you do so is not sufficient grounds for the University to
establish a center,” she said.

Still, McGinley said his group
maintains that since the University has centers to support groups like
women and members of the LGBT community, the implementation of the
Center for Abstinence and Chastity would be natural.

professional service and the professional support that many students
feel comfortable receiving from the University are not available to
those who have moral commitments in the realm of sexuality that are
looked on, at best, suspiciously by administrative arms and definitely
by the student body at large,” he said.

Tilghman, however, said
this assessment of the University’s already-established centers was
incorrect. “There are a number of problems with this argument,” she
said in the e-mail. “First it implies that the Women’s and LGBT Centers
are there to support a non-chaste or non-abstinent lifestyle, which is
not the case, and would be considered offensive by both centers.”

said he thought that conversation about the center had been healthy so
far. “It always takes time, but an essential ingredient is students
going forward with advocating the idea, and I think what is really
terrific about the students who are advocating this idea is they’re not
doing street theater or demonstrations,” he said. “What they’re doing
is giving reasons and making arguments.”

Debate on Campus

The issue has initiated heated debate on campus in recent years, especially in the pages of several campus publications.

the last two years, McGinley and Joel Alicea ’10, Anscombe’s
administrative chair and a supporter of the center, have written
multiple columns in the ‘Prince’ advocating for the center. McGinley
said the vitriolic reactions to Alicea’s most recent column have been
largely unsurprising, as “a change in culture affects everybody, [and]
the reaction, of course, is primarily negative.”

Some students
have questioned whether there is really a need for such a center on
Princeton’s campus. In the fall 2009 issue of Princeton Progressive
Nation, James Coan ’09 criticized the notion of a “hookup culture”,
noting that University Health Services data does not support the claim
that Princeton has a “dominant sexual ethos on campus.” The latter
phrase comes from a February ‘Prince’ column by Anscombe member David
Pederson ’12 and has become a key talking point in the debate.

noted, “Only 23.8 [percent] of students reported having two or more
sexual partners … in the past year, and a plurality, 43 [percent],
reported having zero.”

“After leading the COMBO II survey this
past spring, I have found that students who respond to surveys
represent the student body as a whole fairly well — nothing that would
push the number who engage in casual sex with multiple partners near 50
[percent], making it a dominant culture,” he concluded.

Going into high gear

The group has planned one event per day this week in an effort to raise awareness about the movement.

and politics professor John Londregan ’88, who wrote a piece together
for the March 4, 2009, issue of Princeton Alumni Weekly advocating the
establishment of a chastity center, kicked off the week by hosting the
first event, an open-form talk introducing the concept of the center.

Wednesday, University of Virginia sociology professor W. Bradford
Wilcox GS ’01 presented a talk titled, “Wedded Bliss: What Makes for
Marital Success in Contemporary America.”

Anscombe is paying for
the week’s events, which have cost between $1,500 and $2,000, McGinley
said. He added that he expects the Projects Board to agree to reimburse
Anscombe for the event expenses, though he had not proposed this to the
board as of Wednesday.