Senate panel questions UT funding of sex week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Members of special Senate panel are raising questions about University of Tennessee fees being used to pay for speakers at a student-initiated program about sex.

Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville suggested at the higher education subcommittee hearing on Thursday that students should be able to opt out of their fees being used to pay for events they find objectionable.

Joe DiPietro, the president of the state's flagship public university, responded that the First Amendment requires officials to remain neutral about the subjects that speakers want to address.

The university in March withdrew more than $11,000 in direct funding for Sex Week after some state lawmakers took issue with the program but said it was powerless to halt $6,700 in student fees being used to support the event.

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