Back in September, I wrote on The Torch about a Title IX training program for students developed by CampusClarity and adopted by nearly 200 colleges and universities nationwide that included questions about the details of students’ sex lives. Clemson University, where the program was mandatory, suspended its program soon after students and media outlets objected to this invasion of privacy. Now students at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) are speaking out against the same survey, which they must complete before registering for classes.
WPTV (West Palm Beach, Fla.) relayed some of the questions included in the survey:
- How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?
- With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?
- If you had sex (including oral) in the last three months, how many times had you used a condom?
As a spokesperson for FAU noted, colleges and universities are required by the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act to offer sexual assault prevention training to students. But universities’ legal obligation to offer training does not mean that they must require such training, let alone this kind of breathtakingly intrusive questioning.
FAU student Cheryl Soley voiced her objection to the survey, saying, “I just don’t understand why questions pertaining to how many times I’ve had sex have anything to do with campus life.” Indeed, if CampusClarity and FAU can’t come up with a better way to combat sexual assault than by forcing students to divulge their (lawful) sexual interactions, they need to work harder. Soley isn’t alone in feeling uncomfortable with the questions—FAU spokesperson Joshua Glanzer told WPTV that approximately 80 students expressed concerns.
A spokesman for CampusClarity told Campus Reform that next year, the program will include a “decline to state” option with these questions, and that institutions can already request this option. All colleges and universities using this program should do so immediately so that students are not forced to choose between maintaining their privacy and enrolling in classes.
As with Clemson, it is alarming that no one at FAU examined the contents of the CampusClarity program before subjecting 8,000 students to it—or, if they did, that no one questioned whether inquiries about how many times a student has had sex are appropriate or at all relevant to sexual assault training. But with steady pressure from the White House and others for colleges and universities to conduct “climate surveys” on sexual assault, it’s likely that FAU won’t be the last school to overstep its bounds in this manner. FIRE hopes, though, that institutions start learning from the mistakes of others.