Dr. Monica Black
Associate Professor and Associate Dept. Head, Department of History
I am delighted to lend my support to the project of hosting Sex Week at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This endeavor will provide a significant opportunity for our students to come together to talk about issues of sexuality and gender that affect not only themselves and the university community but also our local community and the broader public.
Dr. Spencer Olmstead
Associate Professor, Department of Child and Family Studies
I support sex week because I feel strongly that in order for individuals to make successful decisions regarding their sexual well-being that they need to be equipped with as much knowledge and understanding about a variety of aspects of human sexuality. Such knowledge and understanding will promote responsible sexual behavior and increase individuals' sexual and reproductive health.
Dr. Tricia Hepner
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
I support Sex Week at UT because to be sexual is to be human. As an anthropologist, I firmly believe that appreciating the diversity and unity of human experience entails understanding the range of sexual and gender identities we might hold and express, and how these are shaped by culture, politics, religion, the environment, and even the economy. All college students should be knowledgeable about sexuality as part of their higher education.
Dr. Tina Shepardson
Lindsay Young Professor, Department of Religious Studies
I support Sex Week because making choices about your body is an important part of being a healthy adult, and you can't make informed choices if you don't have enough information. Besides, college is about education and thoughtful discussion, and that includes important topics like sex and sexuality.
Prof. Joan Heminway
Rick Rose Distinguished Professor of Law, College of Law
The undergraduate years are critical ones for sexual education and, in particular, for ensuring that an appropriate foundation is established for life-long sexual health. UT Knoxville, as a university and the State's flagship land grant institution of higher education, is the optimal place to enable the sharing of accurate information on issues involving sex and gender to undergraduates and to the campus, local, and State communities more broadly. Sex Week is an important student-led initiative that is designed to help UT Knoxville in this important educational process, and I support it.
Dr. Diana Moyer
Social Science Coordinator, Office of Research and Engagement
I commend the efforts of Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee (SEAT) to organize a Sex Week at the University of Tennessee. This event will bring an opportunity to discuss sexuality in a comprehensive way that will encourage responsible and healthy choices. The speakers, films, and seminars will help students engage with the relationship between sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation, and gender. By promoting understanding of different sexual identities, Sex Week will also make an important contribution to the campus civility campaign by raising awareness of LGBT issues.
Dr. Jeffrey Kovac
Professor, Department of Chemistry
When I came of age in the 1960s, life seemed simpler. Ready access to contraception had led to a relaxed attitude about sex. Since then, however, things have become much more complex so the proposed Sex Week that will offer both accurate information and an open discussion about all aspects of sexuality is an important event for UTK. College is a time for learning and exploration, not just in the classroom, library, and research laboratory, but also in one's personal life, including sexuality. I applaud Brianna Rader and Jacob Clark and the rest of the organizing committee for taking this initiative and support it wholeheartedly.
Dr. Nora Berenstain
Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy
For a great many of us, sex is an important component of a healthy adult life. The transitional years between adolescence and adulthood are formative in the development of our sexual identities and in realizing and coming to understand our own sexual interests. In a campus environment, it is necessary to create a safe space for open discussions of sex and sexuality. A comprehensive discussion must not only address difficult topics such as rape culture and STIs, but should include dialogues that empower students to explore and embrace their own sexuality. SEAT’s hosting of UTK’s first annual Sex Week is an amazing way to get this conversation started in our campus community, and I am honored to be a faculty supporter of this crucial, sex-positive event.
Dr. Lynn Sacco
Associate Professor, Department of History
Every spring I teach a seminar at UTK on the history of gender and sexuality, my field of academic expertise. Most students love the course, which may seem obvious if you know that the readings are on topics that include the histories of dating, marriage, contraception, and homosexuality. But I think that what makes this course a special experience for students is that, for the first time in their lives, many have the opportunity to read about the "private lives" of ordinary Americans. Looking at the choices married couples made about regulating their fertility in the 1840s or why "dating" began as a popular practice among young people in the early twentieth century provides students with a historical contact that shows how Americans thought about, talked about, and made conscious decisions about the meaning of sexuality in their lives. Students quickly discover that contemporary debates about sexuality are hardly new. We may think of sexuality as simply "natural," but history is filled with stories of individuals, reform groups, and the state tussling over both the role of sexuality in personal satisfaction (should sex be for procreation or pleasure?), citizenship rights (gays in the military), and specific behaviors (laws prohibiting fornication, adultery, and sodomy). In their course evaluations, students often express their frustration that they hadn't been exposed to this information earlier in their education: "HOW COME NO ONE EVER TOLD US ANY OF THIS BEFORE?!" They know the well-rehearsed contemporary political and religious arguments about sexuality but find them too polarizing to be helpful in thinking through tough decisions. Students have few classroom opportunities to address issues they identify as both most important and most challenging: what does it mean to be a man or a woman, or a father or a wife? How does my race or class affect my choices? Can I be gay and still "manly"? I have found that even though many students won't discuss sexuality even with their best friends, they become quickly engaged when offered an appropriate educational structure for doing so. I can't think of a better program than Sex Week to address one of the key, but overlooked, areas that young people want to learn more about.