When UT made national headlines last year over Sex Week, the university's distribution of funding was called into question by legislators in Nashville.

The 2013 Sex Week, an event organized by Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee, had two-thirds of its funding rescinded after backlash from state legislators.

SEAT then partnered with the Central Programming Council and received University Programs and Services Fee funding. Additional funding allocated to the organization by a university grant and academic departments was eventually revoked.

Any student organization can approach the University Programs and Services Fee board, whose funds are paid, requested and allocated by students under the advisement of staff and faculty, while the SGA president chairs the committee.

Jeff Cathey, associate dean of students, said there are three points the UPSF board looks for when reviewing funding requests, though meeting all three is not mandatory.

Those points include: the program should be open to all students, it should demonstrate a broad campus appeal, and the money must fund intellectually stimulating programs.

In addition, the money cannot support a program with inherent bias.

"It's a delicate thing to describe," Cathey said. "We can't support legally somebody's campaign or somebody's direct say religious outreach.

"That said though, there could be somebody who's a politician or past politician that could be invited to come to campus to talk about a specific topic, because they're an expert on that topic."

Though no formal allocation policy is in place following last year's uproar, Cathey said it is better that academic departments support specific events and not an event as a whole, so they know exactly what they supported and can stand behind it.

"What I've heard as a recommendation is if that the faculty department has money that they feel is appropriate to give to something is that they give it to something very specific ... that they could justify as being a part of their mission," Cathey said.

Brianna Rader, senior in College Scholars and co-founder of SEAT, said she didn't find the process of requesting funding for Sex Week to be a difficult process.

"Any organization can fill out the application and request funds," Rader said. "It's a simple application you just have to work though it and make sure you have a legitimate reason to put on an event and you have to be thorough if you do that, then funds will be allocated to your event."

Legislation recently proposed by state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, of District 7, could drastically alter the way UT allocates funding to student organizations. The bill, titled Sentate Bill 1608, would require that funds be distributed based on the size of the organization, as opposed to meeting the previously mentioned requirements.

It would also affect fixed staff salaries and bonded costs of new facilities also funded by UPSF.

Cathey said he concerned if the legislation is passed that groups will engage in what he referred to as a "collecting of members," meaning groups might aggregate a large sum of members while only a small portion of those selected work as active contributors to the organization.

"I don't really even see if the primary concern is Sex Week," Cathey said. "I don't really see where the current legislation even addresses that. Sex Week's (funding) might go up."

Rader agreed with Cathey and said she did not think the bill would benefit students or programs in any way.

"If anything, it will just be an obstacle to student organizations trying to get funding," Rader said, "because the focus will become about membership and not the content or the quality of the event you're putting on.

"... This could make the emphasis of a student organization purely on membership."

Related Links:

Campfield's bill could alter student group funding policy

UT pulls funding from 'Sex Week'