After Sex Week compromise with the University of Tennessee, legislature drops student funding bills

  • UT's Sex Week was condemned by the legislature, anti-human trafficking groups.
  • The President of UT supports a resolution calling for the school to allow students to opt out of funding programs they find "controversial or objectionable."

University of Tennessee (UT) President Joe DiPietro has thrown his support behind Senate Joint Resolution 626, which called for the school to allow students to opt out of student programs that they find “controversial or objectionable.”

The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville), passed March 13th. According to WBIR, the resolution urges the University to “publish a statement saying some events are controversial and require payers to check a box if they want to fund this portion of the programming.”

The legislation came as a response to the UT’s Sex Week, which was reported on by Campus Reform and condemned by members of the state’s legislature as well as anti-human trafficking groups.

Last Friday, DiPietro sent a letter to Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey (the sitting Lieutenant Governor), House Speaker Beth Harwell, and two legislators who spearheaded the resolution. In the letter, DiPietro said that the UT administration and the Board of Trustees are working on policy changes that would address the resolution’s suggestions.

DiPietro said that the student activity fee system will become more “transparent” while still preserving the First Amendment rights of student organizations. Moreover, he claimed the new policy changes will provide, “individual students the right not to fund student organization expression that is offensive to their personal beliefs.”

State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) said that he is “happy” with the university’s decision. Campfield authored Senate Bill 1608, which sought to make funding for groups proportional based on their membership size, and Senate Bill 2493, which proposed forbidding the use of student fees to pay for speakers on campus.

As a result of the university’s compromise with the legislature, the bills have now been removed from the calendar.

Campfield acknowledged that SJR 626 had “no teeth” on its own, but he believes DiPietro will stand by his pledge.

"At some point you've got to be able to trust some people, and I think I can trust President DiPietro to do what he says he's going to do,” Campfield said.

The new policy will most likely take effect next year, he said

Via Daily Beacon.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @StevenLarson

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