Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

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Censorship on College Campuses: The Mystery of The Collegian Sex Survey

While creating metadata for the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project, Summer Research Fellow Karissa Lim (’18) stumbled upon a series of letters from 1968 that referenced a Collegian sex survey that had been censored. Most of the letters were part of a correspondence between President George M. Modlin and an alumnus, Peter R. Neal (’59). Neal was upset that the survey was not published and was passionate about correcting the censorship; he wrote to Modlin that another survey should be properly conducted and published with an explanation as to why the first survey was not published: “This would help to dispel the notion that the University is afraid to rais se the issue of sex on campus and that the opposition of the Baptist Church was the real reason for the survey not being published.” 


As a social science and humanities student, Karissa was curious about the content of the survey and set out to find the questions and results, hoping that these would provide more context and answers. In The Collegian’s May 10, 1968, issue, they published an article that revealed the results from the drug portion of the censored survey with a promise to report the findings from their sex survey the following week. However, on May 17, 1968, the newspaper published the following two articles: an editorial entitled “Censored” and an article entitled “University Publication’s Board Censors Collegian Sex Survey.” Unfortunately, Karissa could not find the questions or results of the second half of the survey. This mystery raised more questions about freedom of speech and religious reputation on the University of Richmond’s campus.
To learn more about the censorship of The Collegian’s sex survey, watch the digital story above.