KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An upcoming event called Sex Week at the University of Tennessee is generating talk off campus, but most students have no problem with it.
“We’re grown-ups!” sophomore Trenesheia Davis told the Knoxville News Sentinel. She said she was very interested in some of the topics to be discussed during the event, April 7-12.
Junior Max Rippe said the event will be a good use of student fees “if it’s about promoting a healthy sexual environment, especially if there’s an element of tolerance involved.”
Rippe said not all the sessions are ones he would attend.
Some of the titles are catchy and have drawn attention. Among the events are sessions on how to write erotica, a program on oral sex and a tongue-in-cheek campus scavenger hunt for a “golden condom.”
There is also an event for more reticent questioners. “Sex in the Dark” is an anonymous, lights-out discussion in which students can submit written questions.
However there will also be free HIV testing, a workshop on prevention of sexual assault, discussions on abstinence and “concepts of virginity,” tips on talking to parents and doctors about sex and several panels on faith and sexuality.
Karen Simsen, UT’s director of media and internal relations, said the university received 30 to 40 phone calls and emails, primarily from alumni and parents.
State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) called for a review of UT’s budget. But Brianna Rader, who is a co-founder of Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee, said the event is funded by student fees and grants — not appropriated money.
After discussion of a legislative bill in Nashville on Monday, Campfield criticized the UT sexuality event.
“I’d hate to think the inmates are running the asylum over there,” Campfield said. “This is ridiculous. ... It is not what parents send their kids to school for.”
“It’s obvious that we’re living in a sex-negative culture,” said Rader, a UT junior. She and co-founder/co-chair Jacob Clark spent almost a year planning an ambitious weeklong program, modeled after similar weeks at other universities.
State Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) has also questioned the event. During a speech on the House floor Monday night, Dunn said some campus organizations promote behavior offensive to Christians and said legislators need to protect them.
Sex Week is budgeted for $18,195, which includes national speakers’ fees and travel expenses, posters, fliers, shirts and other materials. There is also food served at some of the events.
Of that, $17,845 is UT money.
The events are free and open to the public.