As "Sex Week" progressed with its fourth successive day of programming, the United Residence Hall Council sponsored a particularly intriguing event with an attention-grabbing name to match.
On Wednesday night, students trickled into the UC to line up for the night's most highly publicized event, "Sex in the Dark."
While approaching the auditorium doors, students seized the opportunity to write and submit questions they'd like to explore during the presentation. Afterward, each person was armed with a single glow stick. URHC President Hunter Tipton explained the unusual protocol for his council's program.
"You write down questions, we turn the lights off, and we tell everybody to shuffle around. They have the glow sticks to put up in the air, and we call on them and they get to respond to these questions anonymously. So you really get to know what your peers think."
The responses of the audience, however, were also punctuated with the occasional interjections of the resident "sexperts," to provide factual information and adult insight when needed. The panel consisted of five UT Student Health and Counseling Center employees.
The inception of this program, though, precedes its scheduling for "Sex Week." Tipton said the opportunity for interactive sex education on campus had already been noted.
"We're with United Residence Hall Council, so we wanted to do a sex-ed program before we even knew 'Sex Week' was really growing, really becoming a thing. We went to a housing conference where we saw this program and got to sit in on it, and it went fantastically well."
From that moment on, "Sex in the Dark" evolved into a reality, joining "Sex Week's" educational and engaging lineup. Tipton outlined the premise of the night's activities, emphasizing how this event promotes a healthier dialogue among participants, free from the embarrassment of talking about personal and controversial topics.
"In all of 'Sex Week,' you're learning from experts. You're learning from people who have studied sex. But we wanted to be able to put on a program where you get to learn from your peers."
For freshmen English major Rachael MacLean, that exchange of ideas was what drew her to the event. She said her expectations were fulfilled by the program.
"I was hoping it would be funny but respectful at the same time," MacLean said, "and for the most part I think it was."
After going to several other "Sex Week" events, MacLean asserted that though she didn't always agree with what was said, she appreciated the "diversity of opinion."
"I think I've definitely learned some new things from the other lectures as well as just this discussion," she added. "It was interesting to hear what people thought."
Amanda Bouldin, an undecided freshman, echoed this sentiment, mentioning her surprise at how forthright the conversation was in comparison to traditional sex education.
"I wasn't expecting everyone to be so open and honest," she said. "It was really fun and everyone was laughing instead of it being really quiet and solemn."
To stay updated on the rest of "Sex Week's" schedule, like the organization's Facebook page, visit their website at http://sexweekut.org or follow them on Twitter @SexWeekUTK.