What Are We Paying for Our Children to Learn?

There's no reason for a public university to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a speech from a sex columnist.

By SHARE
WideModern_110713_DanSavage.jpg
In this photo taken on May 22, 2013, author Dan Savage is in his home in Seattle. Savage's latest book, "American Savage," was released on Tuesday, May 28.

No one should be blamed for thinking the so-called sexual revolution is out of control on the nation's college campuses. On the one hand, the lack of basic respect between young men and women has led to an explosion in the number of non-consensual sexual encounters that occur each and every day. On the other, however, the use of taxpayer dollars to educate – a word chosen advisedly – college-age students about best sexual practices has crossed the line to the point where it has reached the absurd.

According to the web site The College Fix, which reports on events at America's academic institutions, a "gay sex pundit" was recently paid thousands of dollars to talk up "gorilla suit fetishes" and other sexual kinks at the University of Oregon.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Citing The Register Guard, a local student newspaper, Fix associate editor Jennifer Kabbany reported the university "paid nationally syndicated sex-advice columnist Dan Savage $24,000 for speaking at an Oct. 15 event at the UO, according to a copy of the contract the university released this week in response to a public records request." The remarks were given, she wrote, at a launch party for the university's new smart phone app that "teaches students how to have kinky sex."

Anyone who would like to know in greater detail just what Savage said and just what the phone app advises is welcome to click the link embedded in the story. Suffice it to say that calling the information provided "bizarre" may be the understatement of the week.

The real offense here is that all this is being done with taxpayer dollars and that university officials think they are providing a beneficial service. "The return a university gets from sponsoring programs where students are exposed to nationally prominent resource people is in the form of sparking thought and considering new perspectives," Keith Van Norman, marketing manager for the University Health Center said.

A simple back of the envelope calculation suggests that what the university paid Savage could have been used to provide a one-year scholarship to a needy student. Either there is too much money available today on college campuses or university officials need to take a course in establishing priorities.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Are college rankings a good thing?]

To those who will suggest that there is a prudish factor at work, most Americans would no doubt agree that it is not the purpose of a college faculty to teach or to provide with taxpayer dollars these kind of programs. There are too many American children graduating from high school and from college without adequate grounding in the hard sciences, in math, in technology training, and knowledge of engineering to keep the nation competitive in the global economy. This is one of the reasons so many jobs are going overseas.

This kind of nonsense is also harmful in the psychological sense. The facilitators of such events know full well the influence they have on developing minds, creating the impression that the abnormal is, in fact, right in the middle of the bell curve. "Lifestyle education" is the goal, which amounts to an abuse of the trust parents place in the institutions to which they send their children and malfeasance as regards the custody of our tax dollars.

If events such as these were confined to just a few colleges and universities they might be easier to overlook. As it happens, they are ubiquitous, as common as "rush week" and homecoming.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Is a College Degree Still Worth It?]

Parents need to start saying "No" to this kind of garbage, as do the philanthropies and benefactors that continue to provide generously to "the old alma mater." Even the feminist organizations who decry what they see as an epidemic of rape on college campuses should join the fight. Is it not self-evident that instruction in promiscuous habits and peculiar behaviors is actively breaking down the barriers between men and women that once existed at a time when men for the most part actually understood that "No" means "No?"

It's a mistake to let the politicians off the hook for this. They provide the money and, in the case of state-run schools, the administrators in charge are ultimately responsible to them as the representatives of the parents who elected them. It's time for a change and it's time that the nation's governors and attorneys general and state legislatures started looking into this stuff more closely. The funding needs to stop and they are the ones who have to do it.

  • Read Jimmy Williams: Religion Can't Be Used as a Reason to Discriminate Against Gays
  • Read Susan Milligan: The Miami Dolphins' Bullying Controversy Is Just the Latest NFL Problem
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad