TN lawmakers take another shot at Sex Week

Tennessee lawmakers may not have uttered their final word on Sex Week just yet.

A resolution filed Thursday in the state Senate again condemns the University of Tennessee's upcoming safe-sex programming and asks the school to begin letting payers of student activity fees "opt in" to programming that could be controversial or objectionable.

The measure comes days after the state House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution that criticized Sex Week, six days of lectures, games and other events on UT's Knoxville campus centered on topics such as domestic violence, sexual identity and hook-ups. Sex Week starts Sunday.

Senate Joint Resolution 626, filed by state Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, calls on UT to reassess how it uses student activity fees and report back to the General Assembly by Jan. 1. Other bills pending in the legislature would dictate how student activity fees can be used, but the latest resolution comes closer to falling in line with the preference of GOP leaders — that UT address the Sex Week controversy internally.

The resolution says UT would be "strongly urged" to make a list of student-organized programming paid for with activity fees. It also says the school should publish a statement that some of this programming is controversial and require payers to check a box if they want to pay for this portion of the programming, an approach lawmakers say has been used by public universities in New York and Wisconsin.

The resolution also points out that the controversy over Sex Week is not the first time the General Assembly has taken up student activity fees. In the early 1970s, House Speaker Ned McWherter, a Democrat, appointed a study committee to look into how fees are used.

After a two-day meeting in Knoxville, the committee concluded the subject was "not a matter in which the legislature should involve itself," the Senate resolution says.


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