Brown University Students Cancel Sex Power God, Saying It's Become 'Violent And Unwelcoming'

The Brown University Queer Alliance (QA) announced this week that it is canceling the school's annual "Sex Power God" party, which in the past has been both a flashpoint for controversy and a recognized component of the Providence, Rhode Island university's free-spirited identity.

In a statement published Monday, members of the Queer Alliance Coordinating Committee explained that they canceled this year's event because "over the past 10 years the event of SPG has continuously deviated from its goals of safe sexual expression."

"The decision [to cancel] was made by students for the safety of students," Lorin Smith, head chair of the QA, told The Huffington Post. "The QA recognized that SPG was no longer serving as [an] affirming space for queer students."

Sex Power God was created 28 years ago as "just a dance," according to an open letter that Rebecca Hensler, one of the original organizers of the event, posted to Facebook on Monday.

"Calling the dance Sex Power God was a liberationist act, a f*** you to those who thought sex, power or god belonged to them not us, and a good joke," Hensler wrote.

Over the years, the event came to be seen as a source of pride and "celebration of the diversity of sexualities and bodies at Brown," as the statement from the QA Coordinating Committee put it.

It also gained national notoriety in 2005 when Jesse Watters, a reporter for Fox News, crashed the event and filmed partygoers without their permission.

That year, 24 students required emergency medical attention. University authorities later conducted a major review of the school's policies pertaining to social events and alcohol.

The cancellation of a popular campus event is invariably a disappointment for students. Last month, Columbia University administrators canceled a fall concert, citing "safety concerns associated with drinking and sexual harassment," according to a statement from a coalition of Columbia student councils.

After riots at Iowa State University's annual VEISHEA event in April, the school called an end to the nearly century-old tradition. Last year, Temple University canceled its annual Spring Fling after the death of a visiting student, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst canceled an EDM party over concerns of students taking MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or "molly."

Students at these schools have been quick to acknowledge their part in abusing what are supposed to be fun events organized by classmates and administrators.

"We murdered a 92-year tradition," the editorial board of the Iowa State Daily bluntly wrote following the cancellation of VEISHEA. The editors went on to criticize the tendency of some students to prioritize drinking above safety.

While Brown has had no riots over the cancellation of Sex Power God, Smith told HuffPost that efforts to address student safety concerns were not having the desired effect.

"In the case of SPG, planners worked with students and the administration to create a large scale safe space through party planner trainings, consent contracts, and similar means," Smith wrote in an email to HuffPost. "Unfortunately students choose to disregard those boundaries, and SPG became a violent and unwelcoming space for some students ... In the mean time [sic], we're focusing on fundraising for other big events like the New England Queer people of Color Conference in the spring."

The QA hopes to find a way to create a safe space for celebration without partygoers getting out of control, something Smith described as "a long-term project." The group is welcoming suggestions and discussions on future plans.

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