» By Lauren Cottle
The Tennessee General Assembly is currently pending a senate bill that will prohibit student fees going to guest speakers in public higher education institutions. Sponsors for this bill are Senator Stacey Campfield-R and Representative Jimmy Matlock-R.
The precedent for this bill was an event called “Sex Week” at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, which involved a guest speaker paid with student activity fees.
“Sex Week” focuses on “sexual empowerment and awareness,” according to their website. Other universities, such as Yale and Harvard, have also hosted the event. The first Sex Week was held at Yale in 2002.
In 2012, two UTK students took action to bring “Sex Week” to the university. The first “Sex Week” occurred in 2013 and, according to its website, was “successful with 4,000 attendees.” UTK is one of the first 10 universities in the country to host this event.
Core values of the event include open-mindedness, inclusivity, sex-positivity, growth and development and transparency.
Controversy surrounded the university after two-thirds of the funding for the event was lost several weeks before it occurred. According to “Sex Week’s” website, “this decision was made by UT administrators in reaction to upset state legislatures.”
Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee (organizers of “Sex Week”) was able to privately fundraise the lost funding to host the event.
If passed, this bill will affect APSU and other Tennessee Board of Regents institutions, not just schools under the UT system.
Student Government Association President Mike Rainier brought this issue up at the SGA meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 12, after being notified by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s SGA President Robert Fisher.
“Other institutions have written resolutions saying that they don’t agree with this,” Rainier said.
Rainier said he hopes senators can have a discussion soon and possibly write legislation in response to the bill. The issue will be brought up in the old business section of the next meeting.
Senator Chris Hayes asked Rainier if there was any chance of the bill passing.
“There is support behind this bill,” Rainier said. TAS