University of Tennessee pulls Sex Week funding

University of Tennessee pulls Sex Week funding

March 21st, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

University of Tennessee system President Joe DiPietro.

Dr. Jimmy G. Cheek, chancellor of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Hoping to quell a rising uproar among conservative legislators, UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said Wednesday the campus no longer will use state tax or tuition funds for a controversial event called "Sex Week."

Cheek said in a statement he made the decision after reviewing the final agenda for the student-programmed event.

"We support the process and the students involved, but we should not use state funds in this manner," he said.

University of Tennessee system President Joe DiPietro agreed, saying "some activities planned as part of Sex Week are not an appropriate use of state tax dollars."

He noted the UT system "is accountable to the General Assembly, the governor and the people of Tennessee for the use of state tax dollars."

Sex Week will keep $6,700 in student programming dollars but $11,145 from academic programs and departments no longer will be available.

The annual event seeks to highlight sexual health, sexual identity, preventing sexual assault and gender roles. This year, Sex Week features a lesbian bondage expert and a campuswide hunt for a "golden condom."

Social conservatives have been astir at the news. Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, threatened to haul DiPietro before the Senate Education Committee in a blog post over the weekend.

Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, asked Campfield to hold off Wednesday, hinting the university would take some action.

UT noted in a news release it has "long recognized the right of students to engage in free speech activities on campus and organize programs for the student body using student activity fee monies."

Student-run boards consider applications for programs and allocate student activity fee money to groups that "encourage broad student participation and interest and contribute to the students' intellectual development," the university said.