Sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in "Gone With The Wind."
It's not that I'm living on a giant plantation, or that Rhett Butler is pursuing me with his creepy pencil mustache (sorry Clark Gable), but rather it's because time and time again, this university and the state legislature behind it have shown that they're stuck in an Ante-Bellum mode of thought. It's a mindset where parents are unquestionably right, the Victorian woman is the paragon of motherhood, and ultimately, sex is a taboo subject.
For those who have yet to peruse the front page, UT announced Wednesday night that Chancellor Cheek had decided to pull the over $11,000 dollars originally pledged to the "Sex Week" on campus.
Cheek said in UT's release that "We support the process and the students involved, but we should not use state funds in this manner."
But as of yesterday, the funds, which made up nearly 2/3 of the event's budget, and the programs they went to were completely guaranteed.
So the question at hand is, what caused this shift in opinions?
The answer, of course, is simple: state Representative Bill Dunn and Senator Stacey Campfield fanned the fire of Fox News' biased reporting from last week and got the University to second-guess its decision.
On Monday, Dunn and Campfield both vented their frustrations at the event's perceived attack on students with Christian beliefs. Dunn called-out the scheduled condom-themed scavenger hunt and workshop on "getting laid," "sex positivity" and "how to turn up the heat on our sex drive," while ignoring the planned workshops for preventing sexual assault, a discussion on abstinence and several panels on faith, some of which are sponsored by campus ministries. Campfield on Monday was noted in a News Sentinel article as writing to dissuade members of the Senate Education Committee from approving UT's budget for next year because of the "Sex Week."
Both legislators viewed this event as an attack on Christian sensibilities, which I find ironic. First, I never knew that my public institution of higher learning existed to protect Christian values when for the past four years I've thought that, in light of our school's veneration of the Golden Calf that is UT athletics, I was getting a B.A. in idolatry. And second, the week serves the purpose of educating students about sexual health, something that, if you look at our state's teen pregnancy rates, is much needed. "Sex Week" may have ridiculous events, but it also has serious discussions that need to be discussed openly on this campus, and if the search for a golden condom gets people in the seats, then I'm all for it.
As for the issue of funding, which was a main thorn in Dunn's side (who as a sidenote said his "blood runs deep orange and is boiling," which sounds like a serious medical condition), is it not convenient that our school would now start worrying about program topics once the issue is brought up by the people who foot UT's bill (who probably wouldn't have said anything if Fox News hadn't run a poorly reported piece)? Where was this Puritanical mindset when UT hosted "The Great Porn Debate" two years ago with Ron Jeremy.
I also find it funny that this state complains when there's a plan to spend money on a sex-related issue, but are happy to receive money from sex-related things, like the funding the state got from "Black Snake Moan" and "Hustle and Flow" being filmed in Tennessee. It's like blaming the man who goes to a prostitute, but congratulating the prostitute for making the money.
"Sex Week" is about expression, education and acceptance. Too bad some people in our government and our school don't see it that way.
We don't live in the 1860s, but, when it comes to sex, we're doing our best to act like we do.
— Preston Peeden is a senior in history. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.