In Defense of UNM Sex Week

As one of the co-creators of UNM’s inaugural Sex Week, Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center is saddened and deeply disappointed to see UNM administration apologize for offering clear and empowering sex education to students.  Sexual violence, consent and safer sex are critical issues for today’s young adults.  If we refuse them access to education and support, how can we expect them to learn to act with integrity or come forward and ask for help when they are treated wrongly?

“The societal attitudes that say talking openly and educating college students about sex are wrong or dirty are the same attitudes that have inadvertently caused an epidemic of sexual assault and domestic violence on campuses,” said Reid Mihalko, one of the presenters for Sex Week.

We want to stop this epidemic. We want for our entire community, including UNM students, to have access to accurate and relevant information about relationships and sexuality without fear or shame.

The controversy that has arisen around Sex Week is itself strong evidence that we must engage in conversations about hard topics. Jaclyn Friedman, a feminist activist and author of the book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, adds that “These misguided attacks show just how afraid many people are of frank, pleasure-centered sex education. But that fear fuels violence. When young people don’t know what safe, pleasurable sex can be like, we leave them vulnerable to predators who will tell them that abuse is normal.”

We invite UNM to live up to its mission to “educate and encourage students to develop the values, habits of mind, knowledge, and skills that they need to be enlightened citizens… and lead satisfying lives.”  Apologizing for working with the community to arrange Sex Week — an effort clearly in service to that mission — helps no one.

We invite UNM administrators to attend the events for themselves to judge whether or not their content is appropriate for students rather than bowing to pressure from those who leveled criticism without witnessing the workshop content.

We call upon the university to support education, safety and maturity. Support Sex Week. Support your students in becoming strong and healthy adults.

We call upon our community to support Sex Week by signing our petition at and contacting the UNM Dean of Student Services at (505) 277-3361.