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Sex Education for College Students

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Writer, educator and self-described feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino will speak to students at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University this week. Over the past few months, she’s had an on-again, off-again relationship with OSU. In October 2010, she was invited to be the keynote speaker at the university’s Modern Sex Conference, taking place this week. Last month, the university uninvited Taormino, citing her involvement in the pornography industry. Administrators argued that paying for Taormino to speak on campus would be an inappropriate use of taxpayer money.

When University of Oregon literature professor Jennifer Burns Levin caught wind of the original cancellation, she jumped at the opportunity to bring the writer and sex educator to the Eugene campus. The cost of Taormino’s appearance at the University of Oregon will be paid for by a combination of student and public funds. In the past, Taormino has lectured at top colleges and universities including Yale, Cornell, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Smith, Vassar, and New York University, about issues affecting sexuality and feminism.

Rachel Ulrich — a Oregon State University graduate student and member of the Modern Sex Conference’s planning committee — was resolute in her belief that Taormino’s voice was necessary on her campus. Ulrich rallied other students and used student funds to bring Taormino back to Oregon State University.

Are you a student? What do you hope to learn from Tristan Taormino about sex, feminism, pornography or other topics? Do you teach at a college or university? What is your experience in booking controversial speakers in public places?

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