Sexuality on mtvU syllabus

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MTV Networks' 24-hour college network, mtvU, unveiled its fall programming slate Monday, including the new series "Sex Cred With Dr. Ruth" and the student-produced "How Do I Say This? I'm Gay."

Also on the slate are returning series "mtvU Stand In," featuring surprise professors Ludacris, Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Annie Lennox, and reality competition series "Quad Squads: Michigan vs. Ohio State."

"We've really tried to partner up with our audience; that is a big part of our programming," mtvU GM Stephen Friedman said, adding that students often contribute to or "help shape" the direction of the channel's programming.

For example, "Sex Cred" features Dr. Ruth Westheimer -- a current adjunct professor at Yale, Princeton and NYU -- and student sex columnists from mtvU's College Media Network, an online network of more than 500 college newspapers, as they tackle sex questions from students that have been uploaded via mtvU.com. All of the content will be archived on mtvU.com, where viewers can browse topics and find answers to questions they might have.

Friedman said Westheimer approached mtvU about doing the show, and the executives thought it would be a good fit.

"We started talking informally to our audience and interns, and everybody knew who Dr. Ruth was -- she's an icon that transcends any one generation," he said. "This (series) taps a need that's always there in terms of students wanting to know more about things as they are out on their own."

Meanwhile, "How Do I Say This?" was launched a year ago as an interactive, Web-based advice wiki developed and produced by a group of UCLA students. It was part of the mtvU Digital Incubator program to find, finance and launch the best student-developed new-media projects.

Season 1 of the new series, titled "How Do I Say This? I'm Gay," premieres in October on mtvU and mtvU.com and will combine audience feedback from HowDoISay¬This.com with original production from the site's student creators in the form of weekly shortform episodes.

Friedman said the decision to focus Season 1 on helping students come out to their friends and family was because that question was the one that came up most on the Web site during the past year. The series premiere, which examines abstinence on college campuses, airs at 6 p.m. Monday on mtvU and mtvU.com.

In other mtvU news:

n John Ashbery has been named as the first-ever mtvU poet laureate. Throughout the fall and spring semesters, mtvU will expose students to Ashbery's works on the channel and Web site.

n The channel will host free on-campus screenings of "The Devil Came on Horseback," a documentary that exposes the genocide in Darfur through the eyes of Brian Steidle, a former Marine who has returned to the U.S. from Sudan to take action.

n mtvU is kicking off a new tour series in the fall featuring the bands the Academy Is ... and Motion City Soundtrack.

n The mental health campaign "Half of Us" will return, featuring interviews with underground hip-hop emcee Cage about how he turned his experiences in a psychiatric hospital into a source of his music and actress Brittany Snow ("Hairspray") discussing how casual dieting turned into an all-consuming eating disorder.
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