p. After the Student Assembly Finance Committee voted to approve $1,450 in funds for the Sex Workers’ Art Show last Thursday, many students and others have spoken out regarding the show.
p. The performance features workers from the sex industry who discuss their work and lives. It is touring this year to Duke University, George Mason University, Harvard University and the University of Michigan and has been criticized as pornographic and immoral.
p. Supporters of the show argue that by giving an educational voice to the sex industry, the public can work toward a better understanding of one of the country’s largest trades.
p. “I think that the show is important because it sheds light on an industry that is pervasive in all of American culture, and worldwide culture at that, and yet is given no voice,” show organizer Mea Geizhals ’08 said.
p. Education professor John Foubert is one of the most vocal critics of the show. Foubert, who could not attend the Finance Committee meeting the night they voted to approve funds and so sent physics professor John Delos, cited in his argument a variety of studies that he says show a causal correlation between viewing pornography and violence toward women.
p. He has even gone so far as to post a warning on the Facebook group “Don’t spend our money on the Sex Workers Art Show!”
p. “From my scholarly perspective, seeing the show will harm students and is likely to be a direct contributor to subsequent incidents of rape and other forms of sexual and non-sexual aggression committed by our students against other students,” Foubert wrote.
p. The show’s organizers dismissed Foubert’s prediction.
p. “I think it’s a bogus claim,” Charles Plummer ’08 said.
p. As of press time, 126 students were members of the Facebook group, including former SA presidential candidate Brad Potter ’08.
p. Potter criticized the SA for spending money to support the show. A group supporting the show counts 344 students as members.
Many of the show’s critics agree with Potter; although they oppose the show for its content, they are more upset about the student government funding the show.
p. “I think that it is irresponsible for the Student Assembly to throw its monetary support behind something that is obviously so controversial, divisive, and to many, offensive,” group founder Thomas Chappell ’11 said.
p. The organizers counter that they are working to fund the show without the SA’s help.
p. “Only right now about half of the money is coming from Student Assembly, and as we raise more money independently we can work towards paying that back,” Sarah Klotz ’08 said.
p. She and the other organizers added that they fully expect to raise enough money to repay the SA, although they stressed that the funding is helpful and beneficial.
p. “Something we’re working hard against is to set the precedent that the SA should not fund the show,” Geizhals said. “This is something that absolutely should be funded by the school.”
p. New to the show this year is a panel discussion a few days beforehand, as well as a question and answer session with the performers after the show. Organizers added these components when students last year requested more educational aspects to the presentation.
p. “We are being as sensitive as we can to other people and we would appreciate other people to hear our reasoning as well,” Geizhals said.