Opinion

Letter to the editor: Sex Out Loud is needed on campus and worth the small segregated fee

The many services Sex Out Loud provides are worth the small fee.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

An average box of 12 condoms from Walgreens costs between $10 and $11, coming out to a little less than $1 per condom. A 4-ounce bottle of lube costs about five dollars, which means each ounce costs about $1.25. The cost of an unplanned pregnancy, abortion or STI is less calculable, but I think it’s fair to call the financial and emotional toll of these events significant.

Sex Out Loud is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, meaning two decades of providing free safer sex supplies, education and striving to create safer spaces for all 40,000 Badgers. I’m currently in my fifth semester as a facilitator with Sex Out Loud, meaning I’ve taught groups of students ranging in size from 10 to 60 about safer sex, healthy relationships, pleasure, birth control and more.

As highlighted in a recent Daily Cardinal article titled, “After opt-out proposal fails, UW-College Republican Chair pushes seg fee opt-out,” Sex Out Loud is funded by student segregated fees (the General Student Service Fund, specifically), which go to all sorts of things like bus passes, recreational sports and, in our case, as many safer sex supplies as students could need.

In a recent radio interview with 1310 WIBA, UW-Madison College Republicans Chair Jake Lubenow told Vicki McKenna his organization was “sick and tired” of funding groups their organization disagrees with, like Sex Out Loud. Lubenow expressed concern over making sure attending the University is “as cheap as possible” for students.

At Sex Out Loud, we share Lubenow’s concern about keeping our services cheap and accessible. So, what does it cost to keep Sex Out Loud educating, hosting enriching events on campus, holding 40 open office hours a week and distributing thousands of free condoms every year? It comes out to a grand total of about 80 cents per student.

Interestingly, Lubenow did not voice concerns about UW’s new meal plan requiring students to spend a minimum of $1,400 in dining halls; nor over the recent failure to pass a bill that would help the 7,600 DACA students living in Wisconsin become eligible for in-state tuition: Perhaps those are not the students Lubenow and his colleagues are financially concerned about.

As a side note, if Lubenow was truly concerned about getting the most bang for his student-segregated-fee-buck, he could have put the $3.50 he was charged for the campus radio fund to good use and voicedhis concerns on one of UW’s many wonderful student radio shows.

Lubenow also mentioned he and his fellow College Republicans felt bullied (my word, not his) into funding the group Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics, whose most recent budget totaled $67,595. Another religiously specific group on campus, Badger Catholic, had a most recent total budget of $108,885. Both of these groups should be allowed to exist and receive the funding they need to maintain spaces where all students feel safe, represented and in-community.

As we say in our Sex Out Loud program introductions, with 40,000 different students on campus there are 40,000 different definitions of virginity, monogamy and what constitutes “sex.” We are not here to change those definitions for you, we are here to help you live your most fulfilling life based on your definitions. Are you a Christian committed to not having sex until marriage but struggling to stick to that? Great, we’ve got suggestions for sexy outercourse activities to help you keep that goal. Are you a person who identifies as trans wondering about what harness is going to work best for your body and interests? Fantastic, we’ll equip you with information about what to buy and where to buy it. Are you a Republican, Democrat, Green Party member or Libertarian? That is really none of our business — unless you want tips on how to successfully carry out an inter-party role-play scene, which we would be happy to help with.

Lubenow and the College Republicans have the right to say they don’t agree with our agenda. But, just to be clear, here is our agenda: We want to give students the skills to properly ask for consent. We want students to have free safer sex supplies like condoms, lube and more if they need them. We want students to know how to access free STI testing and how to ask and disclose their STI status with their partners. We want students to know what birth control options are available to them and how to access them according to their income level and insurance. We believe that if students choose to have sex, they have the right to know how to experience and advocate for their own pleasure. We want students to have a space on campus they can walk into and feel welcomed and free of judgment no matter who they are and what they believe.

Have you used Sex Out Loud’s services? Send any comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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