Last week, Yale’s president announced that the student-run “Sex Week” will not be permitted to use Yale’s name or facilities, basically banning it from campus. The week-long event started as in 2002 as an informative “interdisciplinary sex educational program.” However, Yale’s administrators and conservative groups on campus feel that in recent years, too many of the week’s events were hosted by porn stars or people involved in the porn industry. Even though many of the talks provided by people from the porn industry were not about pornography, people are in a tizzy about it.
In the president’s letter he stated, “We have no intention of suppressing the students’ right to free expression. But we will not allow the University’s facilities or name to be used in the service of corporate sponsors and the private inurement of student organizers.” Well, they kind of are suppressing the students’ right to free expression, but the mention of corporate sponsors seems to be the real concern. It appears that the majority of the events from Yale Sex Week were actually educational, but the administration doesn’t want this week to be backed in any way by members from the porn industry.
Harvard University’s organization, Sexual Health Education & Advocacy throughout Harvard College (SHEATH), has planned their own Sex Week to discuss sex and sexuality. SHEATH has removed association with Harvard from the name of their event in response to the ban of Yale Sex Week. This Sex Week features seminars and workshops about various topics on sex and sexuality, without the involvement of the porn industry.
I honestly feel that Yale Sex Week is something that could benefit their campus, especially in light of last year’s fraternity scandal where Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges marched around and chanted misogynistic slurs. Granted, I understand why the administration doesn’t want events to be sponsored by the porn industry. But just because someone is in the porn industry doesn’t mean they don’t have important things to say about sex. A Sex Week should be all inclusive, which seems to be why Yale’s Sex Week had the porn industry involved in the first place. It’s a forum to speak openly about sex and take away the stigma. If anyone can speak openly about sex, it’s people in the porn industry.
Banning Yale Sex Week seems to be an extreme solution to a sort of non-existent problem. If the porn industry situation is the real problem, why not tell the organizers that they can’t have people from the porn industry sponsor discussions? Why ban the entire week altogether? It’s important for college students to be informed about sex, in all aspects, whether it’s about health, sexuality, sexual harassment, or hooking up. Sex is a part of culture, so why are people so afraid to talk about it? By banning Yale Sex Week, the administration is perpetuating the taboo that we’ve been trying to get rid of.
What do you think? Is Yale’s administration right to ban Yale Sex Week?