Organizers of Sex Week 2012 said the administrative ban on corporate sponsors will limit their ability to attract the type of high-profile speakers who have come in past years.
Connie Cho ’13, one of the Sex Week directors, said organizers have turned to “grassroots fundraising efforts” — reaching out to residential college masters, students, alumni and the Yale College Dean’s Office — in an attempt to meet their target budget of $20,000, which Cho said was in line with that of the 2010 event. Still, Sex Week 2012 will hold the same number of activities as in 2010, Cho said, and she does not expect the fundraising challenges to compromise the event’s quality.
“There’s a list of names that we just can’t bring to campus because they have high honoraria and travel costs,” she said. “We’ve had to make decisions based on the topic of events and how well we can reach out to other speakers that speak on similar subjects without dropping quality.”
Administrators recently approved organizers’ proposal to continue using University facilities for the biennial event, which will take place from Feb. 4-14, despite a November recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate to ban Sex Week from campus. Previous years’ sponsors have included the manufacturer of Trojan condoms and sex toy distributor Babeland.
Cho said organizers face the challenge of both meeting administrators’ expectations to provide quality sex education and also overcoming the ban on corporate sponsorship. Although this “seems like a recipe for failure,” she said she and the other Sex Week coordinators are “optimistic” that they will still offer a strong event.
Still, Cho said limited funds have prevented organizers from reaching out to some speakers who have historically spoken at Yale, such as author and biological anthropologist Helen Fisher. She added that Sex Week organizers wanted to invite sex advice columnist Dan Savage but did not think their budget would accommodate his asking prices.
In an effort to reduce costs, Cho said organizers will “tap into more Yale resources” this year by offering a larger number of activities moderated by students and faculty members, who are easier to recruit since they do not need to be reimbursed for travel or food expenses. In addition, Cho said Sex Week will not distribute its traditional magazine as another cost-saving measure.
Three partner organizations interviewed said they did not expect their activities to incur large costs because they plan to invite only students and professors to speak.
Cho added that the event runs the risk of “last-minute downsizing if the grants … and private donations don’t pull through.”
“The lack of corporate sponsorship has definitely affected editorial decisions and has challenged us to work harder to collaborate with our speakers,” she said. “But ultimately … we’re happy to put in the extra effort.”
Sex Week organizers have also asked for funding from the Dean’s & President’s Discretionary Funds budget, though Cho said organizers have yet to hear back from the Dean’s Office. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in a Tuesday email that her office has not yet decided whether to help finance some Sex Week activities.
The lack of corporate sponsorship has prompted organizers to co-sponsor activities with campus organizations and reach out to private donors, Cho said. The organizers have created a Facebook event asking Yale students to contribute to the initiative and drafted letters for partner organizations to solicit donations from their alumni.
Cho said the Communications and Consent Educators program, a new organization run by the Dean’s Office that promotes awareness of sexual misconduct prevention, has agreed to help fund a “consent and communication” talk by Jaclyn Friedman, Executive Director of Women, Action & the Media.
Hilary O’Connell ’14, an associate director for Sex Week and coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cooperative, which provides support for LGBTQ students at Yale, said she is “absolutely thrilled” that the LGBT Coop will be co-sponsoring several events, including one on online dating among the LBGTQ community. She added that the LGBT Co-op will apply for funding from the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee and solicit donations from the group’s alumni.
Still, not all partner organizations have agreed to enlist alumni support. Sam Gardenswartz ’13, co-president of the Jewish organization Yale Hillel, said though his group will likely co-sponsor an event about the role of religion in sexuality, he does not plan to contact alumni for donations.
Other student groups that have agreed to co-sponsor Sex Week activities include the Yale Dramat, Peer Health Educators and the Yale Political Union.