Using sex toys properly event held at UC Merced

MERCED, Calif.

Students at UC Merced pay about $900.00 a year in fees. That money is used for a variety of purposes, including the organization that hosted a recent sex toy event on campus. About 30 students attended the program, but now others say it was a waste of their money.

Stephanie Toledo stands by the sex toy program she helped organize at UC Merced. This Facebook page shows the invitation to the event, called "Is There a Buzz in Your Bed?"

Toledo said, "It was specifically geared toward giving sex education information about sex toys for any student who was willing to come and participate in that."

Toledo is part of a university group called "Health Education Representatives for Opportunities to Empower Students," better known as H.E.R.O.E.S. The organization promotes student health through a variety of programs, and she says this event served that mission.

"There's a lot of things that students don't know about sex toys," Toledo said. "A lot of safety measures they should take beforehand, and we thought it was really vitally important for them to know that as well as for them to learn how to communicate properly with their partner."

H.E.R.O.E.S. have a budget of $66 thousand for the academic year, which comes from student fees. Organizers say the only costs for the sex toy event were the wages of peer health educators who presented. But critics claim that's wasteful spending.

UC Merced College Republican President Maurice Lewis said, "When it comes to funding, the UC seems to always ask for more, but when is money is spent on things like this, it seems like maybe they're not really thinking, getting their priorities straight when it comes to spending."

A spokesman for a student political advocacy group called the Leadership Institute's Campus Reform sent us a statement, "At a time when students everywhere are struggling with debt, members of the UC Merced community must be awed at the perverse and often baffling expenditure of their resources."

But Toledo argues students have a right to choose which programs are important to them.

Toledo explained, "I'm glad we were able to say hey this is what we want to talk about this is what we want to give our student body back, just as any other club or organization is doing."

The H.E.R.O.E.S. group is not shying away from controversy. It's now hosting a contest to design condoms that will be distributed to students who want them.

A university spokesperson says an administrator oversees the group and can prevent any programs considered inappropriate.

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