ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Students at the University of New Mexico are being asked to “Celebrate Sex” this week, a theme with an underlying goal of making the campus a safer place.
But, not surprisingly, many of the provocatively titled – even risque – seminars planned for the week are proving a tad controversial.
Perhaps the most benign title has been given to a meeting called “Sexy Mamas.” Others concern themselves with orgasm, oral sex and three-way encounters.
The Monday-through-Thursday events are sponsored by UNM’s Women’s Resource Center, the UNM Graduate and Professional Students Association and a private organization, the Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center.
An anti-abortion group, Students for Life UNM, posted the “Celebrate Sex Week at UNM” flier on Facebook and commented: “We cannot believe that UNM is hosting an event like this! We have already sent a letter to the Dean and the President expressing our concern, and we encourage you to do the same.”
UNM officials stressed the events are not sponsored by the university as a whole. In a statement, they said funding for the program comes from student fees designated for the Women’s Resource Center and are set aside for educational purposes. Two of the more controversial sessions Wednesday and Thursday won’t be held on campus and require a registration fee.
Summer Little, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said Monday that people who are upset at the titles also may disapprove of the content of the meetings. However, she noted, attendance is voluntary.
“The topic areas can be controversial, but they are also promoting respect, safety and safer sex practices,” she said. “Whether they use it tonight or five years from now after they get married, the information is still useful. It’s another angle, a positive way, for us to come at the problem of sexual violence on campus.”
At this point, Little said, there are no reliable numbers of sexual assaults on UNM campuses. The center is participating in a White House “climate report” on the subject due out this fall, however, and a solid baseline figure should be available then.
If the nationally accepted statistic that one in every five women is raped during her lifetime is accurate, that could mean as many as 4,200 victims or potential victims on UNM campuses, she said.
Texanna Martin, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association, was not available for comment Monday, but in her absence the group issued a statement addressing the controversy.
“We understand that the titles of these sessions may be out of the norm for some, but we want to assure the public that they are well intentioned … (and) designed to prompt awareness and, more importantly, spark interest.”
As an institution of higher learning, UNM is a place where young adults discover who they are, the statement continues.
“As such, we believe the university community, including student government groups such as GPSA, should play a part in educating students about healthy sexual relationships,” it says.
The statement goes on to reiterate that the sessions “are not mandatory and are only being provided for those interested.”