Monday, September 29, 2003

Delegate Robert G. Marshall, who last spring denounced James Madison University’s “SexFest 2003,” is now demanding answers from another state school: Virginia Tech.

Mr. Marshall said Virginia Tech misused taxpayer funds last week when school officials allowed Virginia Tech TV to tape on campus a “Sex Talk Live” show during which students discussed sex.

“Virginia parents do not send their children to Virginia Tech to take part in [sexual] titillation,” said Mr. Marshall, Manassas Republican.

“Sex Talk Live” is a student-run television program that usually is produced in on-campus television studios and broadcast to dorm rooms. However, Wednesday’s show was taped publicly in front of 500 students in Squires Colonial Hall, a student union building.

Another public taping of the show is scheduled for Nov. 12.

In a letter yesterday, Mr. Marshall asked Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger to explain why the program was allowed to take place at a state school.

“Giving Tech students [sex toys] with student fees is not giving them an education,” Mr. Marshall told The Washington Times yesterday.

Responding to Mr. Marshall’s letter, Mr. Steger said he was concerned about some of the show’s content, which was described in detail in the Collegiate Times. However, Mr. Steger said in a letter to Mr. Marshall that he needed to consider some First Amendment issues.

“Many aspects of the show, as reported, strike me as highly inappropriate and unfortunate,” Mr. Steger wrote in his letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times.

“Whether the university can or should try to exercise prior restraint with respect to future shows is a question we will consider carefully in light of the Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech’s (EMCVT) independent status and the First Amendment of the Constitution.”

“Sex Talk Live” and the Collegiate Times are a part of the Educational Media Co. at Virginia Tech (EMCVT), which is a private, nonprofit company that has provided Virginia Tech with media services since 1997. In addition to the newspaper, EMCVT also coordinates Virginia Tech TV (VTTV), which produces “Sex Talk Live.”

According to the contract between Virginia Tech and EMCVT, the relationship between the two “shall not be construed to mean that EMCVT is part of or controlled by the university … or that the university approves of EMCVT’s activities.”

EMCVT receives some funding from student activity fees. The building where last week’s show was staged was built using money from student fees, and its activities are funded with student fees.

Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations, said the amount of funding could not be quantified because “it’s a water in, water out” situation. He said much of the EMCVT’s funding comes from independent advertising and revenue it raises on its own.

“We don’t know [that student fee money specifically goes toward “Sex Talk Live”] for a fact because EMCVT gets most of its money on its own,” Mr. Hincker said.

Mr. Hincker said that while Mr. Marshall’s complaints were the first the school had heard, students involved in the show were likely to hear from the president. “We are definitely going to have some conversations with the students about the bounds of propriety,” he said.

Mr. Marshall has been keeping an eye on how state colleges and universities have been handling sex education.

In May, Mr. Marshall criticized James Madison University’s “SexFest 2003,” which was an on-campus health fair organized by students that included a demonstration of how to put on a condom.

JMU officials defended “SexFest,” saying the name was “actually a misnomer.” The school said the event was “a health education program … where students could learn about sexual responsibility.”

Mr. Marshall also has sharply criticized distribution of cut-rate contraceptive pills to female students at Virginia’s public universities, prompting JMU and George Mason University to ban the pills.

Mr. Marshall argued that those particular contraceptive pills cause abortions, but advocates of reproductive rights and physicians disagree.

The pill, which can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse, inhibits ovulation, implantation and fertilization of the woman’s egg.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide