The University of Southern California has apologized Tuesday following outrage over a required freshman program that has students detail their sexual history in an anonymous training course.
“USC apologizes for any offense or discomfort caused by optional questions included as part of a mandatory online training for students on sexual consent, misconduct, and other important issues,” Senior Vice President for Administration Todd Dickey said in an statement to the New York Daily News.
All colleges and universities are required by law to provide training exercise on substance abuse and sexual assault. Dickey told KTTV that the standardized module USC is using is the same one that is being used across the country. However, some of the students were unnerved by the questions the program was asking them.
“How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?” one question asked. Another asked “with how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?”
KTTV reported this is the first time USC students were made to undergo this particular training. Campus Clarity, the company that makes training programs for various campuses, told the Fox affiliate that USC and about 500 other schools use the program to gather information to tailor programs that address sexual assault sand substance abuse.
In this case, USC students had to complete the training by Feb. 6 or they’re registration for Fall semester would be on hold.
The New York Daily News reported that Jacob Ellenhorn, a student at the university, raised privacy concerns, which prompted the apology statement. He said he was worried about the confidentiality that went along with the survey.
“It said it was anonymous, but at the same time, they were keeping track of whether I was answering or not, because I wouldn’t be able to take classes or graduate without completing it,” he said. “Asking about my sexual history made me uncomfortable.”
Another student told The Daily News she found the questions helpful, but was worried about student anonymity.
“It asked for very personal data. I didn’t really like that part, but that’s the only way you really get any kind of useful information, Alana Essig told the paper. “I hope I can trust it. I didn’t like that you had to sign in through your email account, because that makes it feel like it’s not anonymous. But I didn’t fill in any identity-stealing type info,
The survey is necessary to keep USC in compliance with the federal Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, according to Campus Reform.