USC Issues Apology for Including Optional Sexual History Questions in Title IX SurveyBy Russell Westerholm
As part of a mandatory Title IX course the University of Southern California required for registration, the school asked deeply personal questions about students' sexual history.
Campus Reform first reported that the survey was for a mandatory program to educate students on the federal Title IX gender equity law. Though the sexual history questions were optional, many students complained that they were even included.
"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," read a copy of an email USC sent to students obtained by Campus Reform. "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."
Numerous U.S. institutions have been placed under federal investigations for complaints that administrators neglect or mishandle sexual assault cases. As a result, both local and federal lawmakers have sought ways to prevent sexual assault on college campuses, as the crime is more prone to happen there than anywhere else.
"It was just full of super personal questions," Jacob Ellenhorn, a student at USC, told Campus Reform.
Campus Clarity developed the survey, which is used by various institutions, and later released a statement emphasizing the sexual history questions were not mandatory to answer. USC has since apologized anyway.
"USC apologizes for any offense or discomfort caused by optional questions included as part of a mandatory on-line training for students on sexual consent, misconduct and other important issues," Todd Dickey, USC's senior vice president for administration, told The Washington Post in a statement. "All colleges and universities are required by law to provide such training, and our training was a standardized module being used by hundreds of colleges and universities across the country."