Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault Fight to Raise $20,000 for Sex Week

With the second annual Sex Week quickly approaching, the CMC Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence are scrambling to raise $20,000 to fund their event, scheduled to take place from October 29 to November 1.

Advocates intend to bring in a wide range of speakers to discuss topics such as healing, pleasure, and sex after trauma; sexual health from a medical doctor; and how to engage in safe sex as a person of queer identity. The week will culminate in an informational carnival held on Thursday. As of today, Advocates have raised a little under $12,000.

Last year, Advocates held the first ever Sex Week on Green Beach, bringing in over 800 people, 500 of whom were CMC students. One of the biggest draws of Sex Week that Advocates hope to bring back is the free, anonymous STI testing package provided for CMC students. Advocates said that while students may have access to STI testing through their parents’ insurance or SHIP, the consortium-wide health insurance, issues with confidentiality and a time-sensitive reimbursement process may keep certain students away, especially those of marginalized identity. Free HIV testing is also available at HEO, but it does not include the whole panel included in full STI testing. Last year, due to a last-minute contract termination with a third-party vendor, DOS ended up agreeing to cover STI testing which came out to over $10,000 and tested almost 200 students. This year, DOS has agreed to contribute $1,000 towards the Sex Week carnival.

To fund the costs of the event along with the steep price of STI testing, Advocates reached out to multiple sources of funding over the last month. While Advocates is allocated the fourth highest budget from ASCMC this school year, approximately $4,400 of their budget goes toward two annual trainings, leaving little money for an event like Sex Week, according to Lindsay Burton ‘19, a member of Advocates.

“We’re constantly training so a lot of the funds go towards updating our training,” Burton said. “On top of that, [it goes] to on-duty supplies and t-shirts, which may be frivolous to other organizations, but our t-shirts are actually a lifeline to people at parties. They come and ask us for help and they get the help they need. The teal is our symbol [for] people [to] know that we are a resource for them.”

Advocates requested $5,000 from the Executive Board and $4,000 from Senate, but expected approximately $5,000 from ASCMC, the amount that was granted last year. Citing a decrease in general budget, ASCMC contributed a total of $3,500 to the event this year. Tensions rose during Advocates’ presentations at Exec Board and Senate meetings, and Burton asked ASCMC, “How much do you spend on Pirate Party?”

Love responded to Burton’s comment in an email to The Forum.

“We don't believe that it is appropriate to compare Sex Week to any event including Pirate Party,” Love said. “All of our events are budgeted over a year in advance during our annual budgeting whereas Sex Week is more similar to ad hoc events put on by groups that tap the Senate General and Executive General Funds such as Sanskriti and other cultural/affinity-related events.”

Love said she understands both the importance of the event and the necessity to reserve funding for other student organizations.

“We believe that the work that CMC Advocates does is incredibly important; that is why we have funded $3,500 towards this event and hopefully more with reaching out to other resources on their behalf,” Love said. “We are committed to supporting and funding our students; however, we want to ensure that we can also support other student clubs throughout the year which also come to us with important requests,” she said.

Advocates President, Zippy Wilson ‘19, declined to comment as she serves as an advisor for Love.

Additionally, all of the newly elected dorm presidents were asked to contribute 15 percent of their budget to Sex Week; only three of the dorm presidents agreed, adding about $600 in total. In the meantime, planning for Sex Week will continue and booking vendors and speakers will still need to move forward as Oct. 29 quickly approaches. Class presidents have also agreed to allocate 15 percent of their budget, which adds an additional $1,100.

Advocate Andria Tattersfield ‘21 said that ASCMC is not prioritizing budget distributions appropriately, seeing as a large chunk of funding went towards the party scene on campus.

“Given that assumption that we have to maintain [the party scene] then, [the budget is] really tight,” says Tattersfield. “But if we consider re-proportioning how much we dedicate to the party scene for alternative events, then it wouldn’t be that tight.”

ASCMC general budgets are smaller this year than last - Senate’s only has $12,500 this year compared to the $15,000 they had last year, and the ASCMC Executive Board also has $12,500 compared to last year’s $40,000. ASCMC pre-approved funds of $10,000 for 6:01, $21,000 for Monte Carlo, and almost $30,000 for Wedding Party for this year. The ASCMC budget is $342,000, which comes from a student fee of $122.50 that is paid every semester.

Tattersfield points to systemic issues with the structure of ASCMC as to why Sex Week has had a difficult time finding funding.  

“ASCMC, as it was created, what they budget for at the beginning of the year, and what they’re made to do, is to hold these big parties and continue CMC’s traditions to benefit the groups at CMC that CMC has traditionally been catered toward,” said Tattersfield. “And so, they don’t have a lot of funds for events that aren’t big parties and they don’t have institutional incentives or structures where these kinds of alternative events that aren’t just the big parties can get the support. That’s why there’s so many individual people working so hard [to find this funding].”

Exec Board passed a motion to contribute $2,000 total to Sex Week: $1,500 from the General Fund and $500 from the discretionary fund of Maya Love ‘20 and Max Knowles ‘20. The General Fund is the only one that can be granted during the year to pay for 5C event proposals, compared to the fixed Campus Organization funds and Student Activities funds.

Senate settled on matching Exec Board’s contribution of $1,500, resulting in a total contribution of $3,500 from ASCMC. Senate mentioned hesitations to give more of their discretionary budget after criticizing Advocates for not acting on budget cut suggestions proposed previously. Senate settled on $1,500 after agreeing that Sex Week was funded enough to put on the event, aside from the STI testing. Senate added that Sex Week contributions would be taking up a bigger percentage of their current budget even though the members are providing less funding for Sex Week than they did last year. At that point, the CMC Advocates were still $2,000 short to put on Sex Week and $10,000 short to provide the free, full-panel STI testing for students.

Representative Advocates left the final ASCMC allocated to discuss funding Sex Week on October 8 feeling disheartened at the outcome and clarified that funding in no way benefits the club for profit. “It’s a huge burden to take on, but it’s not for us; it’s for the student body,” said Advocate Lindsay Burton. “I think that we serve all students. So, for this to be such an issue—to provide consent-based, survivor-supportive, sex-positive sex education to the student body—and also queer-inclusive—it’s incredible we’re not willing to invest in something like this.”

Advocates reminded students to keep in mind what their decisions meant and what message it sent in the midst of the #MeToo movement and the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Currently, after pulling in some more small contributions for multiple sources the CMC Advocates are still $9,590 short to provide the free, full-panel STI testing for students. Sex Week will take place October 29 to November 1, with the carnival occurring on the afternoon of November 1 on Green Beach. Workshops will be happening throughout the week.

This article will be updated with developments.

Forum Staff writer Maddy Ding ‘19 is an Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.