Lawmakers Threaten University Funding Over Women's Festival and Safer Sex Events at Penn State

March 12, 2001 12:00 am

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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA –The Penn State Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union spoke out today against lawmakers’ threats to withdraw university funding because of objections to recent campus activities aimed at promoting safer sex and feminist themes.

Cuntfest, the first of the events in question, consisted of a festival of activities centered around a book by feminist author Inga Muscio. One student was so offended by the festival that he wrote a state legislator in an attempt to get the message censored.

The second event, called Sex Faire, seeks to promote safe and consensual sex in a fun and positive manner. The event has already drawn criticism from the same state legislator, who in recent years sought to withhold University funding because he found some student art exhibits offensive.

“Cuntfest attempted to teach respect and empowerment of women,” said ACLU campus chapter coordinator Brian Ecker. “If some lawmakers find that offensive, they are certainly entitled to their opinions, but it is shameful of them to try and make their opinions law.”

Since its establishment as a student organization, the Penn State chapter of the ACLU has vowed to fight all forms of censorship at the University.

“It would be unfortunate for Gov. Ridge to think that a majority of Penn State students feel this way,” said Ecker. “Because the reality is that a majority of us support the right to free speech, even if we don’t always agree with the message.”

The Penn State ACLU chapter recently came to the defense of STRAIGHT, a student organization that advocated heterosexism and criticized homosexuality. STRAIGHT initially tried and failed in attempts to gain official student organization status, and it was not until the ACLU intervened on their behalf before the Undergraduate Student Government Supreme Court granted the organization a charter. STRAIGHT has since dissolved as a student organization.

“Despite finding STRAIGHT’s message homophobic and offensive, the ACLU defended their right to speak,” said Ecker, “and the same protection must exist for all students at Penn State.”

The ACLU-PSU is asking all students at Penn State to write their state legislators, as well as Gov. Ridge, and to ask their elected officials to support free speech at the University regardless of the message.

“One legislator has heard from only one student calling for censorship, lets make sure Harrisburg knows the rest of us don’t share his views,” Ecker said.

More information on the Penn State ACLU is available at the ACLU-PSU’s website,

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