Chancellor Jimmy Cheek announced Wednesday that UT would pull funding from its first ever "Sex Week," citing some of the week's activities as an inappropriate allocation of state tax dollars.
Brianna Rader, the creator of the event, said the loss of $11,145 cut nearly two-thirds of the event's budget.
"I'm shocked by how big of a deal this is," said Rader, a junior in College Scholars. "It's just 'Sex Week;' it's just sex education."
After an urgent summons to his office from Dean of Students Jeff Cathey, Rader said she and fellow "Sex Week" creator Jacob Clark were informed that "Sex Week" — recent fodder of Fox News and Cosmopolitan web articles — would no longer be funded by Tennessee taxpayers.
UT President Joe DiPietro said he backed the decision.
"Some activities planned as part of sex week are not an appropriate use of state tax dollars," DiPietro said.
"Sex Week" was planned for the second week after Spring Break, and Rader said the last minute withdrawal has put the program in debt.
"I mean, it's two weeks before the events," she said. "I don't know who would've thought that we haven't spent the money, it's not like the money was just sitting in the bank account... We've invoiced the t-shirts that people are wearing; now those aren't paid for."
The decision comes two days after Knoxville's Rep. Bill Dunn and Sen. Stacey Campfield raised concerns over approving UT's budget based on a Fox News article. Tuesday, the official response from the university on the topic of "Sex Week" outlined a defensive argument against the article, including the fact that the students "have worked hundreds of hours on this program" and followed approval processes.
"The university took a hard-line stance supporting our week so today, when we found out for the first time that we are having funds pulled from us," Clark said in a phone interview late Wednesday night. "... We were blindsided."
UT students have exhibited some outrage via social media engines Twitter and Facebook. The #iwantsexweek was gaining popularity on Twitter late last night. UT sophomore in computer science, Joseph Beard, started a Kickstarter fundraiser online, and more information can be found at sexweekut.org
"I think it's messed up that they said they were going to pay for it and now they're not," Ryan Williams, sophomore in business, said. "I get why they don't want to, but you shouldn't back out at the last minute, especially when they came out and said they supported it."