On Monday, Feb. 13, the Office of Women’s Development along with Residence Life hosted a timely discussion about sex and dating, an annual event called Sex and Chocolate.

For an hour and a half, a selected panel answered questions submitted by an audience of over 100 students, male and female. The panel consisted of seven guests, varying in relationship status, age, gender and ethnicity.

The submitted questions revolved around topics like dating apps, struggles with pornography, physical and emotional boundaries and embarrassing dating stories.

One student asked “If God made us sexual beings, how do we carry out our sexuality without crossing the line?”

This question seemed to stump the panel.

APU Alumni and local pastor at Fellowship Monrovia Michael Fields admitted he had never thought of that question and initially struggled with a response.

“Being a sexual being and expressing yourself sexually…there’s a real tension there,” Fields said, sitting next to his wife of over six years. “It’s profound, but it’s a tension that needs to be maintained.”

Although there were questions that made the panel take a communal pause, Fields is grateful for the honesty and is supportive of his alma mater for hosting events such as this.

“The spirit of this conversation makes me proud…we need to practice having more of these conversations,” Fields said.

Sex and Chocolate is a returning event and has been hosted by the Office of Women’s Development for over five years.

Madeline Ho, the Program Coordinator of the Office of Women’s Development, found that the student body has reacted positively to this discussion over the years.

“This year was our biggest turn out,” Ho said.

Over the years, the panels have changed but the traditions remain the same: be vulnerable and come ready to learn. Ho believes the success of this event is due to a desire from the student body to keep having conversations like the ones held at Sex and Chocolate.

“These conversations don’t need to be in secret; we want students to know someone can help you,” Ho said.

Questions sent in by students were read anonymously and were not censored by the mediators of the conversation.

Lamar Saffold, a junior psychology major, heard about this event through conversations on campus and went for the first time to learn more about love and dating.

“I want to find out how I can better love my future wife and respect her,” Saffold said.

This was his first time at the event and was encouraged by the type of questions being asked. “It’s important to talk about these things and not feel ashamed,” Saffold said.

Lacey Litzinger, a senior social work major and Resident Advisor, encouraged her residents to come to this event.

“I went freshman year and I wanted to come back and bring my residents and have the space to have this conversation,” Litzinger said.

Litzinger reflected on past events and recalled that many of the questions have remained the same over the years, but there was one new topic they discussed this year that took her by surprise: online dating apps.

“Online dating shouldn’t be shamed,” Litzinger said.

The majority of the panel responded positively to the question regarding online dating. One member on the panel, Rhianna Pierre, a Resident Director at APU, encourages her friends to use dating apps, agreeing with the statement to be safe and smart when online.

Megan Watkins, a senior psychology major, has come to Sex and Chocolate for three years running.

“I always learn and hear different perspectives,” Watkins said. “I wanted to hear more about these questions.”

The Office of Women’s Development and Residence Life kept their promise that there would be chocolate and students ended the night circled around a chocolate fondue fountain.