The University of Southern California apologized to students Tuesday after requiring them to answer questions about their sexual encounters during a mandatory sexual assault training program. Students were able to select "no comment" to the questions asking about their sexual history and alcohol use.
The training program is part of a Title IX course that all undergraduate students are required to take before they can register for classes. The training began with a survey, which included questions about students' sexual activity.
Students were asked how many times they've had sex in the past three months, how many partners they've had, and the frequency of their sexual encounters.
The next series of questions asked students to comment on their drinking habits.
Students could select answers to these questions, or click no comment.
After some expressed concerns about the potentially invasive nature of these questions, the university released a statement saying the survey portion of the training program was removed.
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.
Jacob Ellenhorn, the President of the USC College Republicans, says the survey questions were an invasion of privacy and "extremely inappropriate."
"Instead of spending all this time asking about people's personal sex lives, the survey really should have done a better job of explaining what is sexual assault."
Ellenhorn added that he was "not sure how asking about how many times an individual had had sex in the past three months including oral sex had anything to do with sexual assault."
“I was really unsure about how students personal sex lives would contribute in any way shape or form to their learning about sexual assault on campus.”
After the questionnaire, students are asked to complete an interactive lesson that aims to teach students about sexual assault, consent and substance abuse. The training portion emphasizes repeatedly that if someone has had too much to drink, he or she is not able to give consent.
Issues of sexual orientation, identity and diversity are also addressed in the program.
Campus Clarity created the training program, which provides similar content to about 200 other schools.
The training program was implemented at USC after the Department of Education started an investigation on the school's handling of sexual assault on campus. Students are still required to go through the training program before signing up for classes.