Group attempts to define love

Olivia Wainhouse

When Weinberg freshman Sasha Taskier tries to talk about her dad and their relationship, she says she often can’t find the words to describe him.

“If I can’t even express how I feel about someone, then I know I love them,” she said.

The question “What is love?” was the focus of a Valentine’s Day-themed forum hosted by student group Ask Big Questions on Thursday night in Parkes Hall. Ask Big Questions, which is affiliated with the Fiedler Hillel Center, created an informal environment for students and professors to come together to engage in a discussion on the definition of love. About 15 students and two professors attended the event.

Religion Prof. Beverly Mortensen related love to another broad topic – religion.

“I like to look at love the way the essence of world religion does: universal love and unconditional love,” she said. “The various world religions talk about divine love, human love, and the love for one another.”

The students and professors discussed topics such as the difference between familial and romantic love, the universality of love and whether love is voluntary or involuntary.

Bill Tortorelli, a Greek professor in the classics department, argued that love is a “disease of passion” and “an involuntary state that causes more torment than does good.”

The forum then opened up the floor for students’ thoughts on love, with many voices vying to be heard.

“It’s something that everyone’s searching for, whether you’re searching for a person you love, a place you love, a job you love. The ultimate goal is to find things that make you happy,” said Rachel Ferber, a Weinberg sophomore.

When asked to share an experience in which they felt love, most of the students in the forum discussed familial love.

“I was thinking about my family – that first kind of love. I was thinking about how their happiness deeply affects me, their sadness deeply affects me (and) their emotions deeply impact me,” said Alexandra Komisar, the managing director of Ask Big Questions. “In a way, love is painful. Anything rational kind of goes out the window.”

Several students expressed their thoughts about the nature of love.

“You have to choose to be in love,” Ferber said. “Love is a very complex emotion, it opens up the doors for other sorts of emotions, whether it be hurt or extreme happiness.”

Ashley Tulloch, a Weinberg junior and member of Ask Big Questions, said unlike other student groups with a set purpose, the group’s direction changes to fit the question at hand.

The group meets every Sunday and hosts events twice a month to pose questions about topics ranging from the existence of a universal truth to what one would sacrifice to change the world. Komisar said the group’s purpose is “to bring students and faculty to dig a little deeper.”

Communication senior Taylor McNulty said the discussion helped her reflect on her own thoughts about love, a topic she has been thinking about since her first year at college.

“Freshman year, I went on this proclamation that there was no romantic love, but now I’m in love,” McNulty said. “Love can be painful and it can be great. It’s this sine graph – it can go down, it can go up.”