Public university required students to submit sexual history or face disciplinary action
UPDATE, 1:17 a.m. — Clemson University has suspended the mandatory training until further notice due to the content of certain questions.
Clemson University is requiring students to reveal how many times they’ve had sex in the past month and with how many partners.
"They’re upset. They’re paying this astronomical tuition to come here, and they’re talking to their parents about these questions, and their parents are getting upset about having to spend this kind of money at Clemson where their students are being asked these kinds of questions."
In screenshots obtained exclusively by Campus Reform, the South Carolina university is asking students invasive and personal questions about their drinking habits and sex life as part of what they’ve billed as an online Title IX training course.
“How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks one question.
“With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks another.
In a campus-wide email, the South Carolina university announced that all students, faculty, and staff would be required to complete a mandatory, one-hour long Title IX training course by November 1.
“We believe you’ll enjoy the assignment,” the email, provided to Campus Reform, reads. “It is an engaging and informative online course, created with students for students. It will provide you with useful information regarding sexual violence and relationships. The course promotes a healthier and safer campus environment.”
Although the email said that the course—which also asks if a student is a part of Greek life or an athlete—was “created by students,” it is actually a product of CampusClarity, "[a] Title IX and Campus SaVE Act education program that combines sexual assault and substance abuse prevention in a comprehensive online training program."
Many students are concerned about privacy issues surrounding the third-party site. While some questions do include a green “anonymous” bar across the top of the screen, Clemson students are still required to log in to the course with their student IDs and include their first and last names, email addresses, and housing information.
“It’s not that I have an issue with being trained on Title IX,” one Clemson student told Campus Reform in an interview. “I have an issue with the personal questions that are asked, and the fact that I’m told it’s anonymous, but it’s clearly linked to my name, and it’s obviously through a third party so not only is my information that I’m going to be filling out—incredibly personal information regarding my sex life that I have issues with speaking about—it’s not only going to the university, it’s going to a third party company that I don’t know.”
“I don’t know what they’re doing with the data, but I’ve been told time and time again that the data that they are collecting, they aren't analyzing or using the data for anything, so then I don’t understand why they’re asking the questions either,” the student, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the university, went on to say.
Roger Clinkscales, a senior accounting major at Clemson, agreed with the student and as a former member of the school’s student government, is calling on the current student government to pass a resolution demanding surveys and trainings to include the state, federal, or accreditation code which deems it mandatory.
“Does the university need to know if I had oral or normal sex in the last three months after I’ve been drinking alcohol or using drugs recreationally or if I used a condom during?” Clinkscales told Campus Reform. “They don’t need to know that for a gender equality questionnaire.”
Clinkscales is set to graduate in December but has not yet taken the quiz as the university has not responded to his inquiry about why the training, with the questionnaire, is mandatory.
“The questions are a part of the training so that you may get a sense of the behaviors and experiences of other Clemson students,” an email from the university to one student, obtained by Campus Reform, said. “Often, students have an exaggerated perception of the behaviors of their peers, so these questions are in hopes of clarifying those misconceptions.”
Jerry Knighton, Director of the Office of Access and Equity, told Campus Reform that the mandatory course is to comply with requirements from the Office of Civil Rights to ensure that federally funded colleges are educated on Title IX. Knighton said other institutions may have different approaches.
The email also said that students can choose whether or not to answer the questions truthfully. Dr. J. David Woodard, a political science professor at Clemson, told Campus Reform that he had heard from several students who had simply made up answers to the questions.
“I don’t understand why the university has a right to mandate this as forcible information when it’s so private, it’s personal, and no one should have to give that up,” Woodard told Campus Reform in an interview. “It’s so much of a disconnect from what we know this campus to be.”
In an email to one student that was obtained by Campus Reform, the school says that failure to complete the course will be a violation of the “Student Code of Conduct, General Student Regulation 8: Failure to Comply with Official Request.”
The link provided in the email did not specify what punishment students could face, but instead said that “a student may be subject to disciplinary action when such behavior is deemed detrimental or disruptive to the mission, purposes and/or goals of the University and may not be provided for herein.”
The Campus SaVE Act does require that colleges provide “primary prevention and awareness programs” for new students and employees. However, those programs do not require higher education institutions to collect data of students’ sex lives.
Faculty have thus far been unable to access their version of the mandatory course. Priscilla Harrison, a senior consultant in Clemson’s Office of Access and Equity, told Campus Reform in an email that the faculty version of the course will be available next week. Faculty will still need to complete the one-hour training by Nov. 1.
View some pictures of the survey:
“If it’s anything like the student version, I can assure you...I’m not going to take it,” Woodard said.
Woodard speculated that he would be written up in his permanent personnel record if he failed to take the training. Such a write-up affects faculty raises.
Knighton said that his office will follow up with the supervisors of employees who do not complete the course.
“This is not reflective of anything about campus awareness,” Woodard said. “All it is is just brainwash, it’s propaganda.”
Woodard confirmed to Campus Reform that some students and their parents have begun talking to attorneys.
“They’re upset. They’re paying this astronomical tuition to come here, and they’re talking to their parents about these questions, and their parents are getting upset about having to spend this kind of money at Clemson where their students are being asked these kinds of questions,” he said.
"Requiring students to divulge personal information about past intimacies and relationships is an egregious violation of students' privacy," Attorney Brad Dacus, President of the Pacific Justice Institute, told Campus Reform in an interview.
The training also makes the claim that one in four women will be sexually assaulted while in college, which according to one student Campus Reform spoke to, instills an atmosphere of fear on campus. According to the latest crime statistics provided by Clemson, two forcible sex offenses were reported in 2012, four in 2011, and two in 2010.
A university official did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform inquiring into the cost of the survey.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn