Clemson University Halts Use Of Survey Asking About Students' Sex Lives

Survey Asking About Students' Sex Lives Is Suspended

Clemson University suspended a controversial online Title IX training program after students complained the survey wanted to know too much about their sex lives.

The conservative website Campus Reform reported students at the South Carolina school had to answer questions about how many times they had sex in the past three months and with how many people. Students were also asked about their drinking habits and affiliation with Greek life and athletics. Although students were told their responses would be anonymous, they had to use their university IDs to log into the training. Completion of the entire training was mandatory.

The training program, which intends to prepare students for college by "focusing on minimizing the risks associated with alcohol, drugs and sexual violence," was created by CampusClarity. On its blog, the company writes about the importance of training students in sexual assault and substance abuse together, pointing to the high percentage of survivors and assailants who were drinking during assaults.

In a call with The Huffington Post, 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.

CampusClarity's privacy policy notes that while student responses to the behavioral questions are recorded, their names and IDs are not connected to that information. The information is aggregated into a report for school administrators so they can get a sense of behavior on campus and find high-risk groups. CampusClarity told HuffPost it plans to add an option next year for students to decline to answer personal background questions.

The Obama administration, members of Congress and experts on sexual violence have pressured colleges to conduct climate surveys recently, as they have shined a spotlight on how campus rape cases are handled.

However, the student backlash to the unexpected survey at Clemson began quickly, as students immediately emailed administrators and talked to professors about their concerns. Students were upset that their personal backgrounds would be recorded on a third-party website and questioned the necessity of providing that information, according to Greenville Online.

Campus Reform published an initial article about the program on Wednesday, and by late Wednesday night the program had been suspended "until the content is further reviewed and revised," Clemson announced.

The CampusClarity program is similar to other online training programs, such as AlcoholEdu, which has faced questions about its long-term effectiveness. However, some smaller-scale experiments on short online intervention programs have shown a positive influence on students' behaviors in college.

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