The decision to revoke academic sponsorship was reached after a discussion between university administration, FemSex representatives and the Honors Program that was “very factual and cordial,” said Claire Van Fossen, co-founder of the workshop and a Marquette graduate student.
Van Fossen said the Honors Program was subsequently instructed by the administration to withdraw academic sponsorship for the workshop.
Andy Brodzeller, associate director of university communication, confirmed the Honors Program was never given explicit permission from the university to sponsor the FemSex program in the first place. But Van Fossen said the university also did not indicate whether or not the withdrawal of academic sponsorship through the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center in February implied a blanket restriction on FemSex sponsorship through other university entities or departments as well.
With the decision made, FemSex representatives are exploring new options to offer the workshop to Marquette students.
According to a university statement released Monday, the “requirement for faculty presence” at FemSex workshop sessions was among the divisive issues raised during the meeting between the university and FemSex representatives, which led to the withdrawal of sponsorship. FemSex reached out to faculty and academic departments for this purpose, Van Fossen said, but the group has not yet received an offer.
“We discussed the possibility but still do not know how we would go about arranging to have a faculty person donate such a large amount of time unpaid to be present for our sessions,” Van Fossen said.
As for the future of FemSex on campus, Van Fossen said the group will seek help in securing a space on campus through negotiations with other academic departments and university faculty in addition to external offers.
“We have had several offers of space off campus but would like to continue to serve the Marquette community,” she said.
The revitalization of the FemSex debate raised a new wave of concern on campus. Zach Dubois, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, questioned the role of intellectual freedom on campus if programs like FemSex are restricted beyond academic sponsorship.
“You have to have some kind of diversity for people to learn,” Dubois said. “We can’t all be stuck in the religious, Jesuit way. That’s not going foster growth academically or educationally.”
In a Sept. 10 story, the Tribune reported faculty and alumni opposition to the program’s reinstitution. Associate professor of political science John McAdams labeled the sponsorship by the Honors Program “bad judgement,” while Ethan Hollenberger, an alumnus who pushed the administration to review the FemSex workshop in February, said its sponsorship leads to “the (Marquette) Catholic identity eroding.” The story also included statements from Amelia Zurcher, director of the Honors Program.
Lily Stanicek, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said she believes the debate over the FemSex syllabus is misguided.
“(FemSex) is not promoting anything,” Stanicek said. “It’s just a way to talk about (female sexuality). I don’t understand how that’s dangerous.”
Many of the opinions expressed after the workshop’s loss of sponsorship in February is also resurfacing. Dubois said he believes FemSex fits into a broader range of discourse that should be available to students.
“Any discussion can be educational,” Dubois said. “Nowhere else on campus will you find a topic like this.”
Story by Natalie Wickman and Tony Manno