As we posted earlier tonight, the University of Tennessee administration caved to (some, limited, extremist) conservative pressure and decided to unfund two-thirds of the campus' upcoming Sex Week to the tune of $11,145. Later this evening, we finally got a hold of the main organizer of Sex Week, undergraduate Haslam Scholar Brianna Rader, and she was in shock.
Rader told us that the UT administration contacted her and the other Sex Week organizers late this afternoon for an emergency meeting, at which they found out they would be defunded. "We felt pretty blindsided," Rader says. "Despite the controversy, the administration was still pretty positive about it earlier this week."
Rader says since this afternoon, they have been frantically working to get non-state funds from other avenues of the university. She says she wants to make it clear that most people at UT have been supportive and "there are definitely people at UT who want Sex Week to happen." And, Rader says, Sex Week WILL definitely happen.
"This whole thing makes it more important to do this. People are getting upset about college kids talking about sex education? This sounds made up. This sounds like we're in a movie," Rader says. She also adds that no other college in the country has had the same kind of issues UT has had with putting on a Sex Week, something that's been happening for over a decade at Ivy League schools. "It's just ridiculous," Rader says. "It was a cowardly move, and I'm disappointed in them."
What's also ridiculous is that by pulling the funds, UT could find itself embroiled in a lawsuit. Rader explains that although there still might be some money in the bank, it's all actually been been spent. ""They're contracted event funds. These [speakers] could sue the university if they aren't paid," Rader says.
Rader is still hopeful that she can find enough various other funding channels on campus to pay for everything, but if you want to help out, you can contribute at Sex Week's website. Some other people have also started a petition to express their displeasure with Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, which had already reached a few hundred signees shortly after going up.
We'll keep you posted as we hear more.