The show must go on.
This is the unofficial mantra of Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee (SEAT), the organization which hosts Sex Week.
Coined by Nickie Hackenbrack, a junior in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology and executive member of SEAT, the phrase represents a commitment to healthy sex education despite last year's state funding controversy.
"Hopefully what you take away from Sex Week is not that we're only talking about sex," Hackenbrack said. "We want to bring about this culture change where you do feel more comfortable with your body and that you should take this and show it in a lot more ways than just on campus."
Since the end of Sex Week 2013, SEAT has been working to prepare for this year's week-long series of sex education lectures and discussions.
Luckily, students do not have to wait until March 2 to see Sex Week in action.
Students can preview spring Sex Week events with the performance of "Rent" at the Clarence Brown Theatre from Jan. 30-Feb. 2 and film showings of "For Colored Girls" and "Love and Other Drugs" in February.
Described by SEAT as encouraging a "sex positive" approach to culture, Sex Week seeks to remove the stigma around sex in an inclusive, non-threatening way.
Ironically, SEAT executives, such as Summer Awad, a sophomore in sociology, are now thankful for the previous year's media and legislative pressures.
"I think the negative publicity is what helped us the most last year," Awad said. "I think that people came out to the events because they had heard about it on the news and because they had gotten fired up about the controversy."
While this year's Sex Week will reprise favorite events involving abstinence, virginity and transgender sexuality, it will also showcase new offerings. Sex Week 2014 will feature lighthearted events, including an aphrodisiac cooking class and an instructional sensual dance, alongside more serious topics.
"We have not only our religion and sexuality panel, but we also have a cross-cultural sexuality panel and an event solely on the Middle East and sexuality," said Awad. "There's a lot of misconceptions about the Middle East and how gender roles and things like that are viewed."
Comprehensive sex education is not a debatable value, Hackenbrack asserted. Instead, she referred to is as a proven necessity.
"This isn't a political thing," Hackenbrack said. "Science shows, studies show, that an abstinence-only policy doesn't work. We have done a lot of work researching these topics and making sure that it was right for this university, so it really is hurtful when these politicians try to say these certain things or that a misconception of Sex Week is that it really is only about sex, and that is not true."
In Awad's opinion, higher education should encompass all aspects of maturity, as opposed to academia alone.
"I think it's about transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, and that is learning how to drink alcohol responsibly and how to form your social circles," she said. "And part of becoming an adult is defining your sexuality and becoming comfortable with your gender role. Without that, your college experience is lacking."
Sex Week 2014 will take place from March 2-7. The final schedule for this year's series will be released at the end of this week.