It looks like Clemson University isn’t the only school demanding that students divulge the details of their sex lives. After Campus Reform’s Kaitlyn Schallhorn brought attention to some shockingly personal questions included in Clemson’s mandatory Title IX training course, Clemson suspended its program. (The survey included questions about how many times students had had sex in the past three months, and with how many people.) But The Huffington Post dug deeper and found that Clemson is far from alone in invading its students’ privacy in this manner:
In a call with The Huffington Post, [program creator] CampusClarity said that in its three years of administering the program, complaints about the personal history questions didn’t arise until this year. Three schools have voiced concerns this year out of the 190 using the program, and CampusClarity is working with them to amend the training.
It is troubling that so many students either accept this interrogation as a necessary part of fighting sex discrimination on campus (FIRE still hasn’t seen an explanation of how these questions could help in that fight) or aren’t willing and able to say no to their college’s administrators. In any case, FIRE’s concern that Clemson’s survey might be part of a higher education trend was clearly warranted, as the information we had last week was apparently just the tip of the iceberg.
The Huffington Post reports that CampusClarity “plans to add an option next year for students to decline to answer personal background questions.” Universities, though, are under increasing pressure from the federal government to conduct “campus climate surveys” to gauge the problem of sexual misconduct on their campuses. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault has recommended them, and as CampusClarity notes on a website it runs at campussaveact.org, the Campus SaVE Act requires colleges to provide “primary prevention and awareness programs for all incoming students and new employees.” Institutions may feel it is safer to err on the side of asking too much rather than too little, lest they be accused of trying to avoid their statutory obligations or sweep the issue of campus sexual assault under the rug.
Colleges should be more mindful of what they are requiring their students to disclose, and students should know that Title IX does not entitle a university administration to inquire into the intimate details of its students’ sex lives. We hope students at those 190 colleges and universities speak up and demand that their institutions respect their privacy.
Learn more about the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education at HuffPost.