Special Report: Sex Week at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Reader Advisory: Some of the content presented in this report is explicit in nature and may not be appropriate for all readers.
The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released an in-depth report examining Sex Week at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK).
Legislative leadership requested a review of the week-long event which has been held on the UTK campus each spring since 2013. The event is organized by Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee (SEAT), which is a registered student organization (RSO). From 2013 through the present day, some legislators have expressed their concerns and disapproval of the event.
The Comptroller’s Office reached several key conclusions about the Sex Week event. These include:
- SEAT is one of about 600 RSOs at UTK, all of which are eligible to request student activity fee funding. In four of the past five years, SEAT received the highest allocation of student activity fee funds, including about $29,000 in both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
- SEAT also received gift funds, private donations, and indirect benefits, such as use of campus facilities, for Sex Week, all of which are options for RSOs at UTK.
- The university has taken some actions to address the Sex Week controversy, but the most significant change, to give students the choice whether to allocate their mandatory activity fee to student-organized programming (such as Sex Week), was made reluctantly.
- SEAT has been unwilling to compromise with university administrators who have asked it annually to “tone it down” and consider the impact of its language choices.
- Sex Week at UTK is not the only such event that has occurred at a public university in Tennessee; similar events have taken place on at least four other university campuses.
The Comptroller’s Office also examined policies and practices at other Tennessee public universities that could be applied at UTK. For example, other Tennessee universities limit the amount of funding student organizations may request or receive.
The report includes 14 policy considerations ranging from minor changes to campus policy to an outright ban on the event. Some policy considerations may have potential legal implications.
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville reviewed a draft of the Comptroller’s report and indicated its willingness to work with its Board of Trustees to implement a number of changes. A letter from the university’s Interim President and Interim Chancellor is included in the report.