University of Tennessee students must now choose to opt in to paying a small fee each semester to help fund student clubs and programming on campus.
At the vast majority of colleges and universities nationwide, students are charged a fee to help fund student clubs and student-run events on campus. But UT made the change, which takes effect Monday, after lawmakers scrutinized the flagship Knoxville campus for not shutting down a popular, student-run "Sex Week" event.
The UT-Knoxville student government is engaging in a marketing campaign to get students to choose to opt in to pay the programming fee, roughly $20 per semester. They've released videos online trying to encourage students to "#optin":
The change came after conservative state legislators in Tennessee got upset with a student-run "Sex Week" event at the Knoxville campus in the spring. No tax dollars or tuition money was used, just a small portion of the programming fee students pay each year. University administrators emphasized they had not heard any complaints to their office from students or community members, and they were restricted by the First Amendment from stopping "Sex Week." Still, lawmakers threatened to punish the university if "Sex Week" went on as scheduled.
The new opt in route is a compromise between UT officials and state lawmakers.
CORRECTION: This article previously stated the roughly $20 programming fee covers the entire academic year, when the fee actually occurs each semester.