By Shannon Ingram, SIECUS Program Research Intern
The annual February “Sex Week at Yale”, a campus tradition since 2002, has been banned by university administrators from associating itself with Yale or using campus facilities unless it changes its focus. Officials claim the reason is that Sex Week has digressed from its original mission to educate, and has become a showcase for “titillating displays, ‘adult’ film stars, and corporate sponsors of such material.”1
At least one student organization, Undergraduates for a Better Yale College, has been critical of Sex Week for relying too much on exhibitors and speakers from the commercial pornography industry. It has circulated a campus petition to ban the event altogether, and since September 2011 has gathered over 200 signatures in support of the ban. A co-founder of the group, Eduardo Andino, criticized Sex Week on the grounds that it “always promoted or proceeded on the assumption that casual sex or pornography is a normal part of life and therefore an unquestionable good.” 2
Sex Week 2010 included a talk with transgender adult film star Buck Angel and a presentation on sexual fantasies by sexologist Dr. Susan Block.The event is currently hosted by the student-run Sexual Literacy Coalition at Yale
Yale’s Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, convened in the wake of a lawsuit alleging a hostile environment for women, issued a report that included pointed criticism of Sex Week.3 The committee recommended banning Sex Week entirely. However, Yale president Richard Levin offered the Sexual Literacy Coalition a chance to re-formulate the event with activities and speakers less beholden to the adult entertainment industry. Levin issued a statement saying that, “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.”4 The fate of Sex Week 2012 will depend on organizers’ ability to meet administration expectations.
1 Caroline Tan and Antonia Woodford, “Sex Week Develops Proposal,” Yale Daily News, 14 November 2011, accessed 28 November 2011, <http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2011/nov/14/sex-week-develops-proposal/>.
3 “Report to the President and Fellows of Yale University of the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate,” 15 September 2011, accessed 28 November 2011, <http://smr.yale.edu/node/12/attachment>.
4 Anna North, “Not on Our Campus: The Real Reason Yale Banned ‘Sex Week’”, Jezebel.com, 11 November 2011, accessed 18 November 2011, <http://jezebel.com/5858643/why-yale-really-banned-sex-week>.