At Georgetown, sexuality has always been a delicate topic. The university still forbids the sale of birth control on campus and only recently did it open an LGBTQ resource center. Typical campus events focus on religion and politics – few focus specifically on sex.

Last week, GU Pride, the Georgetown Solidarity Committee and United Feminists sponsored Sex Positive Week, a series of events designed to bring different perspectives on sexual issues to the Hilltop. Sex Positive Week aimed to teach students about different ways to understand and appreciate sexuality. The sponsors sought to create a forum for discussion of a range of sex-related topics.

We support these goals. Twenty-first century college students want and need to discuss their sexuality; 21st century universities, regardless of religious affiliation, should allow for these discussions to take place. For the sake of education and self-fulfillment, the university ought to support events like Sex Positive Week.

To ignore students’ sexuality – the elephant in the room at Georgetown – would do us all a disservice. It would leave students with nowhere to go but gossip channels when looking for advice. It would silence the already quiet conversation about sexually transmitted infections. Sex Positive Week took a step toward approaching these problems.

Some members of the Georgetown community criticized the event. In an e-mail addressed to the community, David Gregory, editor in chief of The Georgetown Academy (a Catholic student publication), argued that Sex Positive Week conflicts with Catholic teachings and that lectures entitled “Torn About Porn?” and “Relationships Beyond Monogamy” have no place at a Jesuit university. He argued that a Catholic institution should not fund or permit these events.

This critique ignores Georgetown’s commitment to education, free speech and open conversation. Georgetown routinely hosts speakers who don’t necessarily follow or respect Church teachings.

“Catholic” and “university” are not mutually exclusive. Georgetown can embrace its Catholic heritage and expose its students to material outside the teachings of the Church at the same time. Our motto, Utraque Unum (“both into one”), reminds us of this.

Critics also argued that that the organizers should have brought different viewpoints to the conversation, but they did: The week included a discussion called “Celibacy, Virginity, Abstinence and Sex-Positivity.”

Gregory made a worthy point. Did organizers need to post flyers with explicit language? Probably not. Including the F-word in bold letters in advertisements probably turned off more students than it turned on. If the sponsors had reconsidered this militant approach, they might have had a better shot of increasing participation and achieving their goals.

Sex Positive Week had the best of intentions, but the way it was promoted did nothing to make critics more amenable to these sorts of discussions; a balance should be struck between shock value and mainstream appeal. (The critics should be reasonable, too.) We look forward to next year’s iteration – a less extravagant, more congenial version.

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