The student union of Durham University in England sent an email to all students and staff promoting a sex work training course offered by the university.
“The SU position on students in sex work are [sic] clear: support, informed advice, de-stigmatisation and collaboration with expert organizations,” the email read.
The university brought in the external “Students Involved in the Adult Sex Industry” session in response to student requests, a spokesperson for Durham University said. Adding that sex work is a “feature” within higher education “across the UK.”
“We are emphatically not seeking to encourage sex work, but we are seeking to provide support to our students,” the spokesperson said. “We make no apologies for working to ensure that Durham is a safe environment for all of our students and staff.”
A sex work course offered via video conference offers to “support students in a difficulty arising from the reality of rising costs in higher education,” according to student union welfare and liberation officer, Jonah Graham. “Trying to create a scandal from an attempt to support people whose work can make them vulnerable is contemptible.”
The email advertising the course described it as a “training opportunity,” and stated that “student sex workers should not face any barriers to accessing support which is well informed and free from prejudice.” The “Level 1 Training” for “student sex workers” was described as a one, hour-long meeting, and the “Level 2 Training,” would last 90 minutes.
“Sex work is degrading, dangerous and exploitative. Uni should have nothing to do with it,” Member of Parliament Diane Abbott said on Twitter.
Horrific that Durham University is offering training to students who want to be sex workers part-time. Sex work is degrading, dangerous and exploitative. Uni should have nothing to do with it https://t.co/BpuVdaLTmN
— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) November 12, 2021
A similar incident occurred at Leicester University in October when the school offered an online “toolkit” for students involved in prostitution and assured them that “sugar daddies,” working on sex chat lines and selling one’s underwear online are all legal.