When we wrote on Friday about state Sen. Stacey Campfield threatening UT's funding over the upcoming Sex Week on campus, we were worried the administration wouldn't stand by the funding once the nuthouse conservative legislators started bombarding them with complaints, even though the university's budget had already been passed, and, despite Campfield's best efforts today, can't be unfunded.
We were right.
Today, at 6:33 p.m., in a classic late afternoon news dump, the university sent out a press release that, in essence, withdraws the majority of funding for Sex Week.
Never mind that last week university spokesperson Karen Simsen, the same person who sent out the above press release, expressed the administration's support for the plan. "The university is providing funding for this workshop because it covers a wide range of issues that are beneficial to our students," she was quoted as saying. (And hey, Karen, sorry for getting your name wrong last week.)UT Announces Changes in State Funding for Sex WeekKNOXVILLE--University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said today the campus will not be using state tax or tuition dollars to fund Sex Week.Cheek said that after reviewing the final agenda for the student-programmed event he determined that it should not be funded by state tax dollars.The university 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 programming boards consider applications for programs and allocate student activity fee monies to those that encourage broad student participation and interest and contribute to the students' intellectual development."We support the process and the students involved, but we should not use state funds in this manner," Cheek said.The organization will retain $6,700 in student programming dollars but $11,145 from academic programs and departments will no longer be available.UT System President Joe DiPietro said he supports the decision."The University is accountable to the General Assembly, the governor and the people of Tennessee for the use of state tax dollars," DiPietro said. "The University's three-part mission is to provide education, research and public service, and the state allocates this funding to help us fulfill the mission. Some activities planned as part of Sex Week are not an appropriate use of state tax dollars."The UT System is studying and evaluating the funding and planning of student activities at all UT campuses and institutes.
We're not sure what will happen to Sex Week now, since these funds have been budgeted and allotted for months and months and months. It seems like the administration doesn't give a damn about the hard work students have put into organizing this conference. And never mind that the woman behind Sex Week, Brianna Rader, is actually a Haslam Scholar. (Not like our governor would ever step in on behalf of a politically unpopular issue. Please.)
What we do know, though, is that the UT administration will willingly kowtow to conservatives no matter what. No matter that Campfield is one of the least popular senators in the legislature and the Republican establishment wants him out. No matter that the planning for Sex Week has been going on for over a year with no issues raised. No matter that as of yesterday, UT had only heard from 30 to 40 people opposed, out of all the people in the great state of Tennessee, or even the city of Knoxville. No matter that $11,145 is a teeny drop in the bucket of UT's budget -- a budget that can easily find room to pay out millions of dollars to football coaches who were fired. But god forbid students -- WHO ARE ALREADY HAVING SEX ON CAMPUS EVERY GODDAMN DAY -- find out about having safe, respectful, good sex. Oh no, that would be a shame.
What's a shame is the UT administration not sticking up for its students and for academic freedom. That's what's really a shame.