6/15/2015 update: That would be UC-Boulder. The Chronicle has the report here.
5/27/2015 update: Asking Too Much, or Not Enough?
Jake New has the latest in InsideHigherEd, here:
… The questions asked students if they had ever experienced a number of specific sexual activities without their consent, describing those actions with words and phrases such as “oral sex” and “penetration,” and defining the terms using definitions such as “when a person puts a penis, finger or object inside someone else’s vagina or anus.”
… At Penn, some students also complained that they didn’t realize the survey was about sexual assault, as it was referred to as a “climate survey,” as these kinds of surveys commonly are. Thinking the survey was about climate change, the students claimed, they deleted the email. The university declined to comment on the complaints, and said it does not plan on releasing its response rate until the fall. Harvard had a response rate of 52 percent, thanks in part to a large ad campaign on campus, including a video message from Harvard graduate Conan O’Brien.
I still think John Bonine’s Chronicle op-ed (below) is the most serious critique, because it points out that the AAU will hide the college identifiers that would allow researchers to figure out what policies are most effective at reducing sexual assaults. And the new report points to a new problem along those lines. The AAU has allowed campuses to use wildly different strategies to encourage students to complete the survey, and the resulting differences in response rates and who responds will further complicate any such efforts.
4/17/2015 update: VP Robin Holmes kicks off intentionally crippled $87K AAU rape survey
From: Vice President for Student Life Robin H. Holmes
To: University of Oregon Student
I’m writing to ask you to respond to a climate survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct. The results will be used to guide policies to encourage a healthy, safe and nondiscriminatory environment at the University of Oregon. It is important to hear from you, even if you believe these issues do not directly affect you.
I know your time is valuable, but I hope you can find a few minutes to respond before the survey closes on Friday, May 8, 2015. By going to the website at the link below, you will be entered into a lottery to win $500 . We hope you will decide to complete the survey, but you are eligible for the lottery whether or not you complete the survey: [link deleted]
Your individual responses will be treated as confidential. Your participation in this survey is completely voluntary and will not affect any aspect of your experience at the University of Oregon. However, your response is important to getting an accurate picture of the experiences and opinions of all students.
Westat, a social science research firm, is administering the survey for us. If you have any questions about the survey or have difficulty accessing it, please send an e-mail to CampusClimateHelp@westat.com or call 1 (855) 497-4787.
Robin H. Holmes
Vice President for Student Life
1/29/2015 update: Noted sociologist pays AAU $87,500 for intentionally crippled rape survey
More than half of the universities in the prestigious AAU have bailed on President Hunter Rawlings III’s politically motivated and intentionally crippled rape survey. Page down for John Bonine’s evisceration in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. Josephine Woolington has the latest in the Register Guard, here:
To ease concerns from some University of Oregon professors, UO Interim President Scott Coltrane has said the university could still back out of a nationalized sexual violence survey that has been criticized by dozens of scientists.
The UO, however, would likely be out $87,500 if Coltrane made that decision.
Coltrane announced in December that the university would develop its own campus “climate” survey in addition to using the national one overseen by the Association of American Universities, a nonprofit higher education trade group whose members include some of the nation’s top public and private universities, including the UO.
The UO agreed to pay for the AAU’s survey before an advisory committee appointed by Coltrane reviewed it and before the UO’s independent institutional review board evaluated it. …
UO psychology professor Jennifer Freyd and almost 60 other researchers from across the country say the AAU survey, which students will take in April, is flawed and could undermine federal efforts to understand the scope of sexual violence on college campuses.
The AAU has disputed such claims, noting that the survey will be based on a White House-recommended model and designed with a select group of 19 university professionals who have experience with survey research, sexual assault, gender studies and students affairs.
Experts say the survey lacks transparency because universities aren’t required to release the results to the public, a caveat that contrasts with recently proposed federal legislation that would require schools to conduct climate surveys and make the data publicly available online.
Why is Coltrane still participating in this charade?
1/18/2015 update: Almost half of AAU Universities just say no to Hunter Rawling’s campus rape survey
Michael Stratford has the story in InsideHigherEd:
More than two dozen of the nation’s top research universities have declined an offer by the Association of American Universities to anonymously survey their students about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus.
Twenty-six of the AAU’s 60 U.S. members told Inside Higher Ed this week that they had decided against participating in the association’s survey project, which some victims’ advocates and sexual violence researchers had criticized. …
Rumor is that AAU President Hunter Rawlings III (sic) has been calling the AAU presidents and engaging in some personal arm twisting. This makes his failure to get their consensus on how to spin the sexual assault problem even more embarrassing – if that’s possible, given the transparently political and anti-scientific nature of the AAU’s methodology.
And is UO going to be left holding a bigger financial bag because the cost of the consultant-prepared survey won’t be covered by enough schools? The one advantage of the AAU survey was consistency across schools. That was mostly eliminated by the AAU’s decision to strip school identifiers from the public data release. And now the data won’t even have much cross-school variation.
12/5/2014 update: Pres Coltrane will pay AAU $85K for problematic rape survey, and now seeks faculty buy-in.
Josephine Woolington has the report in the RG, here. John Bonine’s Chronicle op-ed below explains the political motivation for peculiar design of the AAU’s survey and its limited data-release plan, which violates the National Science Foundation’s guidelines. Other problems with its science are also documented in the letter to the AAU presidents from Jennifer Freyd and 60 or so other national researchers, linked to in Bonine’s piece below.
Now that Coltrane has made his decision, which ignored the recommendation of the UO Senate Task Force, he is trying to find “up to 10” UO administrators and faculty willing to serve on his alternative “administrative advisory group”, I assume in the hopes they will give him some advice he will like better, or at least buy him some cover for a while.
11/26/2014: Chronicle publishes John Bonine’s (Law) criticism of AAU rape survey secrecy
Here. In a nutshell, the AAU wants its member institutions to sign on to an expensive sexual violence student survey. Part of their pitch is that they will delay release of the results to allow for spin control, and permanently hide university identifiers from researchers. This will prevent cross-sectional or time-series studies aimed at understanding what policies and interventions reduce campus sexual assaults. UO President Scott Coltrane – a sociologist with expertise in the analysis of survey data – has to decide whether to spend $85K on this by Dec 1. As Bonine explains, it’s not a tough call:
… One might expect a prestigious group like the Association of American Universities to take a leadership role in these matters. In reality, however, the AAU wants member universities to commit by December 1 to a survey of sexual violence that will be kept largely secret from the public, including potential critics. Nearly 50 experts in sexual assault have criticized the plan in three open letters, but the AAU has continued to encourage presidents to spend $5-million on a survey that hasn’t even been written yet. …
When both the White House and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, and Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, announced in the spring that they would push to require campus-climate surveys, the AAU sprang into action. But what were its motives? …
According to [AAU President] Rawlings last week, when institutions receive their campus results next summer, “AAU will require that universities agree NOT to publish or communicate survey findings internally (to the student population) or externally” until the AAU can engage its “national conversations” strategy. (The emphasis was provided by Rawlings.)
… Even so, the AAU is promising colleges that the results from their campuses will be kept secret from other colleges, the public, and politicians. It emphasizes in its letter to each president that “university-specific information will be shared only with that university.” The possibility of doing comparative analysis to determine which colleges have policies that actually work may become impossible.
John E. Bonine is a professor of law at the University of Oregon.