USC students required to detail sexual history before registering for classes
A mandatory online course at the University of Southern California (USC) asks students to disclose the number of sexual encounters they have had over the past three months and teaches students to ask for consent by saying “how far would you be comfortable going?” and “would you like to try this with me?”
In an email obtained by Campus Reform, students were told they must complete the Title IX training in order to register for courses in the spring.
“This course is mandatory, and you must complete it by February 9, 2016. If you do not complete the training by this date you will receive a registration hold until the training is complete,” the email stated.
Many universities require students to complete a course on Title IX, but some students at USC are worried the online course they are required to take is too intrusive.
“It was just full of super personal questions,” Jacob Ellenhorn, a student at USC, told Campus Reform.
Despite some students being uncomfortable with the content of the course, the campus-wide email assured students they would “enjoy the assignment.”
“We believe you’ll enjoy the assignment, and that this training is in line with our shared belief that Trojans care for Trojans. It is an innovative, engaging, and informative online course, created with students for students,” the email stated.
The course begins with a detailed questionnaire that asks students to reveal how often they are having sex and using drugs or alcohol. The survey also asks students to specify the number of sexual partners they have had in the past three months.
After revealing both the number of times they have had sex and with how many different people, students are then asked to state whether or not they used a condom.
“If you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months, how many times had you used a condom?” the survey asks.
The questionnaire also asks students to discuss their drinking habits and encourages students to avoid “pre-gaming” and “blacking out.”
After completing the questionnaire, students were then walked through a two-hour interactive lesson on sexual assault, consent, and substance abuse. In one case, students were told that a sexual partner who has had too much to drink cannot give consent. However, in a different scenario, the course shows a video of a man and a woman who are both drunk and engaging in sexual activity. The video, according to Ellenhorn, blames the man for sexually assaulting the woman.
“It kept on saying that drunk people cannot give consent. In one scenario both the man and the woman were drunk but the video still blames the male for the assault. I found that a little confusing,” Ellenhorn said.
Another portion of the course teaches students “how to ask for consent” and lists possible verbal and physical indicators their sexual partners may provide. Students are told to look for physical signs such as “crossing arms” or “lack of eye contact” as an indication a partner does not want to have sex. Only verbal signs, however, indicate a partner does want to have sex.
In a subsequent portion of the course, students are encouraged to “challenge gender stereotypes” and question the validity of “traditional thinking.”
“When someone’s appearance or behavior do not ‘line up’ with traditional thinking, how does traditional thinking ‘line up’ with everyone being born free and equal,” the course states, suggesting “traditional thinking” does not endorse ideas of freedom and equality.
The course also touches on the topic of sexual assault and offers tips to students who have been accused of sexual assault. The first tip suggests students admit they may have “crossed a boundary” even if they don’t remember the event.
The Department of Education’s handling of sexual assault cases was called into question recently when Senator James Lankford sent a letter to Secretary of Education John King criticizing the department for abusing its power. In his letter, Lankford challenges the low legal standards of the department in cases of sexual assault.
In 2011, colleges were ordered to judge all sexual assault cases using the “preponderance of the evidence standard,” which is a lower burden of proof than many were using before, according to The Daily Caller. As a result, innocent students are allegedly being forced off campus without due process and favor evidently falls mostly on the side of the plaintiff, as the mandatory course at USC suggests.
The course was created by an organization called Campus Clarity, which produces interactive online training on Title IX for nearly 200 other schools, according to their website.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski