Columbia U. spending $2.5M to study its students’ sex lives

Columbia U. spending $2.5M to study its students’ sex lives

Columbia University is spending $2.5 million on a sociological study of its students’ sex lives, according a professor working on the project.

“I am part of a major study right now,” Shamus Khan, a sociology professor, said during a talk Wednesday night with Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis. “The trustees of Columbia wrote a $2.5 million check to the faculty and said, ‘Figure this out. What’s going on with sex and the sex lives of students?'”

The project began in 2015, as Columbia became a focus for sexual assault activism. This included when Emma Sulkowicz, a university student, pledged to carry her mattress around campus until the student she accused of rape, but the university cleared, left campus or was expelled. Her case made Columbia ground zero for sexual assault awareness on college campuses and brought the university a great deal of negative press and unwanted attention.

The study, blessed by university president Lee Bollinger’s office, intends to examine “the individual, interpersonal, and structural (cultural, community, and institutional) factors that shape sexual health and sexual violence for undergraduates,” according to the project’s website. It’s called the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation, or “SHIFT.”

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