A student-organized event on the University of Tennessee campus has sparked controversy and calls from Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield to review the university's budget.
The event called “Sex Week UT” is planned for April 7 through April 12.
The event is being presented by Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee (SEAT).
According to the organization's Facebook page, it has the mission of fostering a comprehensive and academically-informed conversation about sex, sexuality, and relationships with the purpose of educating the University of Tennessee student body and the Knoxville community through innovative, collaborative, and entertaining programming and events.
“Sexual health is fundamentally a human experience,” co-organizer Brianna Radar said. “It doesn't just include health. It includes issues of consent, issues of happiness and issues of pleasure.”
The event will have various events, including workshops, movie screenings, discussion groups and STD testing.
“There is something in this program for literally everyone,” Radar said.
Among the activities is a campus scavenger hunt for a golden condom, a drag show, sex trivia and a session on how to talk to parents about sex.
“The function is to make sure people get the chance to speak about their beliefs and have the chance for other people to listen to them,” co-organizer Jacob Clark said.
The event also features sessions that deal with student health.
There will be a day when free HIV testing will be offered, a session of stopping sexual assault on the UT campus and sexual education for students who are not sexually active.
Tennessee Senator Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, sits on the Senate Education Committee and he is against the event.
“We are not talking about health and safety to do a drag show,” he said. “Why are they trying to push this?”
He continued, “This is not something that parents sent their kids to school to learn. It is not even close we have got some serious issues obviously going on at the University of Tennessee.”
Campfield called for a review of the UT budget because the event will cost nearly $20,000 and part of the funding was set to come from student activity fees assessed to all students.
“They keep jacking up the fees saying they need more and more money,” he said. “If this is what they need the money for, I question it.”
Wednesday evening UT's Chancellor decided not to allow student fees to be used to pay for a portion of the event.
On campus, student opinion is split on the idea.
“I think it is important for college students to learn about sex and know about the things that go on,” student Grant Smith said. “Some of the events that are outlined are very important for college kids to know.”
Others wonder if spending any money on the event is smart.
“There are just better things to spend the money on than just sex week,” student Cassie Helmboldt said.
Similar events have been held on other college campuses like the University of Chicago and Harvard University.