True Love Week provides alternative

One day after Sex Week 2012 launches this Saturday, students will have the chance to attend an alternative set of activities organized by a group of students who say Sex Week inappropriately emphasizes “sheer, gratuitous and physical pleasure.”

True Love Week, sponsored by Undergraduates for a Better Yale College, will hold seven events between Feb. 5-14 focused on promoting fidelity and love, said Eduardo Andino ’13, co-founder of UBYC. But Sex Week co-director Connie Cho ’13 said in a Wednesday email that she disagreed with UBYC’s characterization of Sex Week, saying that the event will not advocate any particular sex practices but instead offer students the opportunity to discuss sex openly.

“It is not appropriate to characterize Sex Week as trivializing sex simply because we have not taken up arms for a very narrow set of beliefs,” she said. “Opportunities for education and reflection on sex [do] not trivialize sex.”

While Sex Week directors have established a target budget of $20,000 to fund Sex Week events — a goal they are facing difficulties meeting since the University banned corporate sponsors — Andino said True Love Week will have a budget of approximately $6,000. The group has already raised roughly $5,000, mostly from student and alumni donations as well as external sources, such as the Love and Fidelity Network, an organization that encourages pro-life activities on college campuses.

Most of True Love Week’s events — including “Chastity and Human Goods,” “The State of Marriage Today” and “The Person as a Gift” — will be led by college professors who specialize in sexual issues.

True Love Week leaders are considering turning the initiative into an annual event, according to Andino.

Former Sex Week director Colin Adamo ’10 said he thinks Sex Week provides valuable sexual education on campus, but added that True Love Week is an “awesome” idea because it would offer additional perspectives about sexuality at Yale.

“The more voices we have on campus, the better,” Adamo said.

UBYC formed last fall when it circulated a petition to ban Sex Week from campus. The petition, which was created in September, had garnered over 200 signatures as of mid-November.

The Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, which University President Richard Levin convened in April to analyze Yale’s sexual environment, also criticized the biennial event in its November report, in part for featuring “titillating displays, ‘adult’ film stars, and commercial sponsors of such material.” But Levin said in his response to the report that he would allow event directors to draw up a new proposal, which administrators accepted Dec. 20.

Andino said he was “surprised” that administrators approved Sex Week — scheduled to run Feb. 4-14 — because he thought it did not adequately address the concerns brought up in the Advisory Committee’s report.

“There’s still this fundamental assumption [in Sex Week activities] that happy sex is the most promiscuous sex or the most sort of loose and casual sex,” he said.

Eleven students interviewed said they did not plan to attend True Love Week events, though a majority said they appreciated the alternative perspective that the UBYC initiative would present. While some students interviewed said they do not have time to attend either True Love Week or Sex Week activities, others said they disagreed with the way True Love Week approached discussions about sexuality.

“True Love Week seemed mostly concerned with encouraging marriage, and it seemed to have more of a political agenda than creating a safe sexual environment,” Sage Snider ’12 said, adding that she had just reviewed the True Love Week schedule. “I don’t really think Sex Week has any effect on people’s views of sex. If people want to have sex, they are already going to have sex. But if you’re going to have sex, you should be educated.”

True Love Week’s first event, “What They Didn’t Teach You in Sex Ed,” will take place Sunday in Linsly-Chittenden Hall at 3 p.m.

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