November 15, 2011 ( – Every two years undergraduate students at Yale university are invited to two weeks of pornography, porn stars, fetishes, sex toys and sex talks, all in the name of the university’s infamous “Sex Week.”

But if the university’s president and a committee tasked with studying campus sexual climate have their way, Yale’s most notorious event won’t happen again – at least not on Yale property, or using Yale’s name.

In a September 15 report issued by the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, members of the committee said that they heard “over and over” from students, faculty, and staff that “Sex Week” is “highly problematic.”

While the student-led initiative began as “a campus-wide interdisciplinary sex education program,” the committee charged that “over time, this event clearly has lost the focus of its stated intention.” 


“In recent years,” they said, “it has prominently featured titillating displays, ‘adult’ film stars, and commercial sponsors of such material.” 

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Now, in a response issued Nov. 10, the university’s president, Dr. Richard Levin, has cautiously expressed his agreement with the committee’s analysis. “We will not allow the University’s facilities or name to be used in the service of corporate sponsors and the private inurement of student organizers,” Levin stated. 

The president explained that he has given the student organizers of Sex Week 2012 an opportunity to submit a revised program for next semester’s event “that might warrant the continuation of this event on campus.”

The clamp down on Sex Week follows several years of heightening controversy surrounding the event, compounded by a formal complaint filed by 16 students alleging a “hostile sexual atmosphere” on campus characterized by pervasive harassment and assault.

Another group of students with similar concerns has banded together under the name “Undergraduates for a Better Yale College.” They launched a frank discussion about Sex Week in September when they published an op-ed in the Yale Daily News calling for an end to the biannual event. 

The students described Sex Week as “an event that takes to extremes the selfish, hedonistic mentality we believe to be so deleterious to a healthy culture.” On their website, the group observed that around one-third of the events at the 2010 Sex Week “were hosted or facilitated by pornographic film actors or people intimately involved with the pornography industry.” One event that they spotlighted featured a topless porn actress displaying violent and sadomasochistic film clips to students.

But even events not hosted by the porn industry “displayed a similar attitude toward sexuality,”  says the student group, observing that only two events “dared to question Sex Week’s pervasive message.”

A petition launched by the group in September charges that Yale suffers from a “dysfunctional attitude towards human sexuality” and urges Yale to withdraw its support from Sex Week.

For now, Sex Week hangs in the balance. In a press release, organizers of Sex Week 2012 have expressed their willingness to take Levin up on his offer and to present a revised program for next year’s event.

“We will enthusiastically provide a proposal to President Levin and the Yale administration, including justifications for the week’s events,” the organizers write. “In return, we expect the same thoughtfulness and respectful discourse that these relevant issues deserve.”