Donations let UT Sex Week go on

By: Hilary Magacs Email
By: Hilary Magacs Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) -- UT Sex Week will go forward after getting full funding through donations. Thursday night the group planning the week long event made the announcement on its website.

Private donors have stepped up to fund a student-initiated Sex Week program at the University of Tennessee.

Brianna Rader, a co-founder of the organization Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee, said she was thrilled that more than $7,000 in donations came in Thursday. She said most money came from individuals, although Planned Parenthood contributed $1,000.

University of Tennessee Sex Week organizers said they started planning the program last June, and said it's crucial:

"Students don't know where to find birth control, they're struggling with how to navigate this hookup culture. How to deal with issues of sexual assault. It's ridiculous that we don't have information about an issue that you have to face on a daily basis," said Brianna Rader, Sex Week's co-founder.

Sex Week is scheduled to start April 7 and will feature various panels, lectures, films and pamphlets on sex and sexuality. Brianna Rader said they were given a budget of about $18,000 - two thirds made up of state funding and the rest from student activity fees. But UT pulled state funds after Tennessee legislators questioned the use of public money for the program.

UT is allowing $6,700 from student fees to help support Sex Week, which begins April 5.

"I'm not suprised that they pulled it because I mean, I guess talking about sex - most people find it controversial and they don't talk about it that much. So they may not want to get involved," said Amber Pryor, a student at UT.

"I honestly think the government should fund stuff like that because maybe then students would be more informed about sex and the hazards that come with it," said Niki Blaylock, who also attends UT.

Organizers said they're disappointed with the university, but said they're asking for private donations and more student activity fees to make up the difference.

Under mounting pressure from state legislators, UT administrators announced Wednesday evening the university was taking back more than $11,000 it had earmarked to help pay for the week of seminars and events on campus.

"Any other student organization, which we're one of, can apply for them. And we went through that same process. So now we've presented and we're waiting to hear if we've gotten approved of it," said Jacob Clark, Sex Week's co-founder.

They said they expect a lot of private donations and said Sex Week will still go on.

UT President Joe DiPietro said he supports removing state money from the program, saying some planned activities during sex week are not an appropriate use of state tax dollars.

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