Honors program-sponsored FemSex cancelled again

The University Honors Program will no longer sponsor FemSex, a weekly student workshop centered on the discussion of female sexuality and reproduction, despite its recent return to campus. The decision came roughly eight months after the university originally pulled its support for the program when it was initially sponsored by the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center last semester.

The Tribune reported Sept. 10 that the program was returning this semester despite scrutiny from some donors, alumni and faculty. The FemSex syllabus underwent some minor changes for its return, but the changes were not substantial enough for the university to back the workshop, Marquette said in a statement Monday.

“As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Marquette supports the educational and intellectual exploration of issues regarding gender and sexuality,” the statement said. “Early this week, a student-led Female Sexuality workshop was promoted on campus with sponsorship from an academic program. Following a discussion with the program about academic sponsorship, including the requirement of faculty presence, the program chose not to continue sponsoring the Female Sexuality workshop.”

Amelia Zurcher, a professor of English and director of the Honors Program, said she did not have a comment about the decision at this time. The workshop’s founders, Alisha Balistreri Klapps, who is unaffiliated with Marquette, and graduate students Claire Van Fossen and Rachel Bruns, could not be reached for comment at this time either.

Zurcher told the Tribune last week, however, that she believes “FemSex empowers (participants) to understand, respect and appreciate their own sexuality and use it in just and healthy ways.”

The university statement  continued, “While it was evident that changes to the workshop outline were made since spring, additional changes were needed to align with Catholic teaching. We understand that our students engage  in discussions on gender and sexuality, but when they happen as part of a university-sponsored event, we must address these topics in the context of our Catholic faith. We continue to be confident that we will find mutually respectful ways to engage in these important discussions in a way that is consistent with our mission and identity.”