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UT Sex Week 2018 concludes, controversy continues


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The student organizers of the University of Tennessee’s annual Sex Week say it appears attendance was up this year, a development that will further anger some state lawmakers.

Julie Edwards is a current co-chair of Sex Week at UT Knoxville. She says the lectures portion of this year’s event were better attended than usual. Edwards says the Cabaret was an especially big hit with students.

“We had songs about LGBTQ issues, about consent, about different kinds of relationships, about empowerment.”

Some state lawmakers are intent on shutting down the six-year-old event, calling it an embarrassment.

During committee meetings chaired by State Senator Delores Gresham last week several lawmakers blasted the student led program. Gresham argues Sex Week is not what free speech is about.

“It seeks nothing more than to glorify depravity and it takes the name of the university and drags it through the trash that we have seen touted as educational in lofty phrases and terms.”

Event Co-Chair Edwards disputes that characterization, saying that Sex Week addresses topics students have questions about.

“The more taboo a subject seems, the more important it is for us to have an honest discussion about it. So I don’t think that we’ve crossed any sort of line.”

A new Board of Trustees will take over governance at UT in July and conservative lawmakers are pushing them hard to reign in Sex Week.

While the event is organized by students and receives no state funds, it does use UT facilities. Edwards says event organizers have contingency plans should the event be pushed off campus.