Editor's note: This is the first in a series looking at distinctive UT student organizations.
A new student organization aims to educate the student body on the ideas of modesty, chastity, marriage and charity, said information sciences graduate student and founder Ryan Haecker. The UT Anscombe Society, which consists of roughly 12 students, was formed this semester following the lead of universities across the country such as the Michigan Institute of Technology and Princeton University. The Anscombe Society is working on a presentation to help explain their values to other students and encourage them to become members and hopes to become an official student organization in the spring semester. The Daily Texan sat down with Haecker to discuss the society’s origins and principles.
The Daily Texan: First, I was hoping you could talk to me about what the Anscombe Society is and what it does?
Ryan Haecker: It’s named after Elizabeth Anscombe. She was a famous philosopher at Oxford University. The Princeton Anscombe Society, which was the first Anscombe Society, chose Elizabeth Anscombe as the patron of the Anscombe Society and there are Anscombe Societies now on many campuses throughout the United States. My organization is communicating with other Anscombe Societies and we all have a similar aim, to promote modesty, chastity, charity and marriage. Principally what we’re concerned about is the sexual promiscuity that proliferates on college campuses and especially the way in which universities seem to have [ignored] this sort of lifestyle.
DT: Why did you decide to create a chapter here at UT?
RH: What concerned me is that college is a formative period in peoples’ lives. They come here and they learn all sorts of new things and they determine what direction they’d like to follow. I feel like a lot of people see it not so much in educational terms in a formal academic setting but in terms of experiences they can have, and they believe that having a wide variety of experiences is preferable to having a limited number of experiences. If people are meant to act virtuously, and I believe that they should, then I think that they need to restrain themselves. Aristotle describes this sort of restraint as acting moderately and I think that today, excess is praised rather than moderation. I would like to encourage people to act moderately and [with propriety].
DT: What have you seen about the culture of our University that concerned you or prompted you to found the Anscombe Society?
RH: The cultural norms regarding sexual restraint and possibilities of having sexual partners have been radically changed in the past few decades, and one question I think is helpful to ask when there’s a radical change, especially to something so fundamental to living as reproduction, we’re inclined to ask questions about what the benefits are of this lifestyle and whether this lifestyle is beneficient to society as a whole. I don’t really go to parties where people drink a lot of alcohol so I don’t know specifically what they do there but I hear stories.
DT: If you could sum up what you think the UT student body should know about the Anscombe Society, what would you say?
RH: I would say that the Anscombe Society is a non-denominational, student political organization that aims for the advancement of the ideals of chastity, modesty, charity and marriage. We believe that these ideals are integral to a healthy, flourishing and benevolent society and that they’re not partial to any sectarian political or religious creed, but we think they can be rationally demonstrated and universally beneficent to all people.
Printed on Friday, October 21, 2011 as: Anscombe Society promotes chaste values