UT students speak out against decision to deny state funds for Sex Week
"Unfortunately, some conservatives have taken our event out of context and it's gotten us some negative attention and our administration responded, I think, in a cowardly manner," UT Sex Week co-chair Brianna Rader said.
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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - University of Tennessee student organizers and student supporters for Sex Week said they want to make it clear they are outraged by Chancellor Jimmy Cheek's decision to withhold state funds for the program.
On Thursday morning, UT students flocked to the Rock on campus and spraypainted their opposition to send a clear message to the school's administration and lawmakers.
"Those funds were promised to us months ago," UT Sex Week co-chair Brianna Rader said.
Rader said the group has no plans to change the program or cancel the event.
Supporters are standing up for the event both on campus and on the Internet through Facebook and Twitter.
Cheek's decision denied the students more than $11,000 in state funding, though the group will still receive $6,700 from student programming.
"Many of our events are unfunded," Rader said. "We are in debt. The t-shirt I'm wearing is no longer paid for because of the removal of our budget."
The group started an online petition urging Cheek to allow the group to receive state funds.
The group's Facebook page also shows posts of supporters speaking out against lawmakers like State Sen. Stacey Campfield who helped spearhead the pull back of state funds.
Campfield threatened to haul the university's president to the Senate Education Committee over the issue.
"Unfortunately, some conservatives have taken our event out of context and it's gotten us some negative attention and our administration responded, I think, in a cowardly manner," Rader said.
A spokesperson for Cheek said he declined to comment beyond a released statement where he said: "We support the process and the students involved, but we should not use state funds in this manner."
He also said that the decision was Cheek's alone and that no approval process was necessary.
Campfield told 6 News Thursday that while denying state funds for Sex Week is a step in the right direction, he wants all funding to be withdrawn including the money from student programming.
"They're still using student dollars that are not something that kids have an opportunity or parents have an opportunity to opt out of," Campfield said. "I don't think that's something that the parents pay their kids tuition to go to school for."