One of the best things about the University of Dallas is that people love to learn. As a freshman, I would sit in the cafeteria for hours listening to my friends talk about Aquinas and Plato. I couldn’t believe I was in a place where people talked about philosophy in their free time. But students don’t just enjoy discussion among themselves outside of the classroom — they also bring discussions to campus by hosting intelligent speakers through academic clubs.
This was also a novelty for me when I arrived in Irving. My rural town in Georgia, named for our favorite Italian city, does not often bring in renowned speakers to talk about their poetry, true feminine beauty, or being gay and Catholic.
And we can thank the academic clubs at UD for hosting these lectures.
The Alexander Hamilton society, one of the newer and most popular academic clubs (a popularity not hindered by the fact that they provide Chick-fil-a at most events), brought in a Georgetown University professor to talk about the Iran deal, held a movie screening and discussion of the World War II-era movie, “Unbroken,” and hosted a recruiter from the Charles Koch institute to talk about internship and job opportunities in the think-tank and policy worlds, all during this fall semester.
Sigma Tau Delta, an English Honor Society, sponsored an event with nationally acclaimed poet Kimberly Johnson. The Aspiring Theologians Society hosted Joseph Prever to talk about living a celibate life as a gay Catholic who adheres to the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. And the UD Society for Women invited Verily founder, Ashley Crouch, to speak about feminine beauty.
There are lots of reasons why these clubs and the events they host are important. In my opinion, they give us something to talk about. To use that now-highly politicized phrase, in the Bubble, it’s healthy to lift our weary eyes from philosophical texts, attend an intellectually stimulating lecture and then discuss it with friends or professors.
In his response to Dr. Roper’s article, Fr. Thomas defined the word “conversatio” as “a way of life aiming always at a deeper conversion of mind and heart.” This might sound like an impossibly lofty goal of attending a lecture, but conversation is what UD students thrive on. How many of us have stayed up long past the Tower bells have stopped ringing talking with friends about everything under the sun? Our academic clubs are valuable, even vital, because they provide some of the material for these conversations. If we take advantage of these opportunities, they can help us expand our conversation, explore an issue in depth or deepen our faith.