When I got back to Clemson last month, I was greeted by an email letting students and faculty know they would be required to complete a mandatory Title IX training course or face some form of disciplinary action. At face value, such a request does not sound too extreme. Title IX prohibits discrimination in public education institutions on the basis of one’s sex. According to the US Department of Education, such discrimination includes sexual harassment or violence. That sounds okay, right? What could be wrong with educating students on the policies of Title IX and working to protect students on campuses across the country?
The answer to this question is nothing. The problem at Clemson was that the training module required students to answer invasive questions regarding sexual history and drinking habits. The third party system used, Campus Clarity of California, was approved by administration officials and implemented over the summer of this year. Upon learning the contents of this module and the lack of connection these questions have with Title IX training, many students, including myself grew concerned over this intrusion into our personal lives.
The reason you may have heard about this debacle in the news is because several students took a stand. Rather than standing idly by and allowing the University to proceed with its unnecessary and unreasonable intrusion into the lives of its students, those concerned reached out to University officials and, ultimately, the media. Presumably, the University administrators expected this program to be implemented and unquestioned. They were wrong.
I say all this not because of any animosity towards Clemson (though the tuition keeps on getting higher) but because the underlying story here is incredibly important. In an era of growing government, encroaching on more and more of our day-to-day lives, this principle can be applied. Rather than simply letting government run its course, we the People have an undeniable duty to protest. Failure to stand up for ourselves will inevitably lead to a frighteningly powerful government (even more so than now) running its course without any accountability.
Media outlets of America are the most powerful tool we have. It certainly may be argued that many of these outlets are more agenda driven than they are interested in relaying an unbiased version of the news, but nonetheless, their methods are efficient. In 2008, many in the media became cheerleaders for the Obama campaign. Their efforts brought Barack Obama into homes all across the country where the little known senator became one of the most recognizable faces in the world. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the media let the world know of President Bush’s alleged inability to coordinate effective relief efforts, severely damaging his approval numbers. On Wednesday of last week, news broke of the questions Clemson wanted its students to answer. A short five hours later, a University-wide email announced the indefinite suspension of the program pending elimination of these questions.
The First Amendment to the Constitution is one of the most remarkable tenets of Americanism. We have been blessed to live in a country in which we hold rights that cannot be infringed upon by public institutions. If we truly value these rights and our liberty, we must not be afraid to take a stand when our rights are stepped on. Our ancestors sought these freedoms in the Revolutionary War more than two centuries ago. In his 1967 gubernatorial Inaugural Address, then Governor Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Reagan ran for president to protect our freedoms. You do not have to run for any political office to initiate change. I do not want to be part of the generation that brings about the extinction. What is stopping you?