Ouachita Baptist University’s Ben M. Elrod Center for Family and Community will host Healthy Relationships Week March 4-10. The week’s activities will be incorporated into the weekly Ouachita events Noonday, Chapel and Refuge. In addition, there will be daily breakout sessions for all students, and a weeknight dinner and weekend retreat for engaged and married couples.
Formerly known at Dating, Engagement and Marriage Week, the week’s name has been changed to more accurately describe the events available to students.
“We wanted to make sure the week had something for every student on campus, whether they are in a relationship or not,” said Judy Duvall, assistant director of the Elrod Center and HRW program coordinator. “Our goal for the week is to provide resources and help for our students so that they can develop healthy relationships with the opposite sex in friendship, dating, engagement or marriage.”
The week kicks off Sunday, March 4, with the Women Tell All Panel. A panel of eight female students will answer common questions that college men have about women. In the first half of the session, the young women will respond to questions submitted in advance by male peers. Audience members will also have the opportunity to anonymously submit questions for the second half of the panel discussion. Dan Jarboe, the university counselor, will moderate the event.
Jarboe pointed out that the young women on the panel will be presenting their own thoughts and ideas on the various questions submitted. “With the insight the ladies are prepared to offer, I wouldn’t want to miss it if I were a young man,” Jarboe said.
Female students will have the opportunity to attend the Men Tell All Panel later in the week, which will follow the same format. Kate Davis, OBU admissions counselor, will moderate this session.
“This is a chance for us as guys to tell girls some things we think they should know about how guys think about relationships that they wouldn’t necessarily already know,” explained panel member Nate Wade, a senior accounting major from Big Sandy, Texas.
Duvall explained the catalyst behind adding the Women Tell All and the Men Tell All Panels to the schedule, saying, “So many times male and females think they understand and know the minds of their counterparts but in reality could use some help in understanding and some clarification from each other. Hopefully these sessions will start some healthy dialogue and discussion between students.”
On Monday, Noonday will be held at noon in Berry Chapel and will be led by Mason and Hayley Hayes. All students are invited to attend the panel discussion “Love Across Races: a Discussion on Interracial Relationships” from 9-10:30 p.m. in Young Auditorium. At this session, a panel of three couples who are in interracial relationships will talk about the “joys and challenges of being in an interracial relationship,” Duvall said. Dr. Byron Eubanks, professor of philosophy, will moderate this session.
Tuesday, Becky Horne, wife of university president Rex Horne, will speak in chapel at 10 a.m. in Jones Performing Arts Center. A breakout session for female students only, “Identifying Healthy and Unhealthy Patterns in Relationships,” will be led by Jessy Lancaster from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Elrod Center. Women are invited to attend the Men Tell All Panel from 9-10:30 p.m. in Young Auditorium.
Wednesday Noonday will be led by Bryan and Kate Davis, and a breakout session for female students only, “Learning to Recognize God’s Grace for Wherever You Are Now,” will be led by Keisha Pittman from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Elrod Center.
Refuge Thursday night at 9 p.m. at First Baptist Church will be led by Jarboe and his wife, Kyle. Jarboe said they will discuss “practical dos and don’ts related to beginning relationships with the opposite sex that could lead to dating, engagement or marriage.” The Jarboes have been together for more than 30 years and have counseled hundreds of couples.
Friday Noonday will be led by Dr. Tim Knight, J.D. Patterson Professor of Biology, and his wife, Tracey, administrative assistant in the Pruet School of Christian Studies.
Two expenses-paid events will also be held especially for engaged and married couples. Tuesday evening, a dinner will be hosted at the Honeycomb restaurant in downtown Arkadelphia at 6 p.m. with Trey and Elise Atkins, OBU missionaries-in-residence.
A weekend retreat for engaged and married couples will be held Friday evening until Saturday at noon at the Wingate Hotel in Little Rock with speakers Cary and Tracey Balzer from John Brown University.
Hayley Hayes, who has attended both events for engaged and married couples in past years, explained the benefit of the events, saying, “We had such a great experience. We didn’t realize until after we were married how grateful we would be for a free dinner, some time away on a nice retreat, and the opportunity to learn from some really great speakers. Our schedules fill up so fast, but we really enjoyed having time to slow down and learn as well as a chance to relax and spend quality time together over dinner at a nice restaurant. Our favorite part of the week was the weekend retreat and we still talk about things we learned from the speakers that weekend. We’re really excited to participate again this year!”
By Nicci Fillinger