Campus Surveys Inflate Rape Statistics

Calls for additional or new “campus climate surveys” have been a regular feature the post-2011 war on campus due process. The White House has produced a template that colleges can copy. The Gillibrand/McCaskill Campus Safety and Accountability Act (co-sponsored by such Republicans as Marco Rubio, Charles Grassley, and Kelly Ayotte) contains a provision seeking to make such surveys mandatory. Given the Obama-Gillibrand-McCaskill-Rubio record on campus due process, it should come as little surprise that something the four of them want is problematic.

Though often billed “campus climate” surveys, these polls do little of the sort. They never ask, for instance, whether students understand the specifics of their campus adjudication system’s procedures (such as the preponderance of evidence or the lack of meaningful legal representation). Nor do they seek to ascertain student attitudes toward due process matters at the school—a topic that should be obvious if the real goal were to get a sense of the “campus climate.” And, of course, their anonymity ensures that climate surveys deal only with allegations of sexual assault, and provide no way of testing their accuracy.

The White House template suggests that universities survey “perceptions” of “attitudes” among students regarding sexual assault. (If perceptions and attitudes are all that’s required, it makes the exclusion of questions about due process all the more puzzling.) White House guidance strongly discourages schools from asking students if they were raped or sexually assaulted, instead asking for behaviors that the school’s researchers can then re-interpret as sexual assault. This list is so broad as to include “sexual contact” while “drunk.”

For students who didn’t report such incidents, the template asks them which of twenty-four possible reasons explains why they didn’t report. The possible answers include such duplicative items as “didn’t have time to deal with it due to academics, work” and “had other things I needed to focus on and was concerned about (classes, work)” or “I thought nothing would be done” and “didn’t think the school would do anything about my report.”

Beyond the limited array of questions, the surveys suffer from another fatal flaw—in the current campus environment, they aren’t really designed to solicit information. Instead, their primary goal appears to be to confirm preexisting beliefs about the existence of a campus sexual assault epidemic.

Consider the reaction to a recent Stanford survey. It revealed that 1.9 percent of Stanford students said they had been sexually Assaulted. This figure (which would translate to around 160 sexual assaults, given the university’s enrollment) would make the Stanford campus the violent crime capital of Palo Alto, which in the last five years has averaged around six rapes or attempted rapes annually. Nonetheless, it generated fury from Stanford campus activists, led by the anti-due process law professor, Michele Dauber—who seemed outraged that it didn’t return the preferred 1-in-5 figure.

In response, students passed a non-binding resolution demanding a new survey, which would presumably return a higher figure of sexually assaulted students. A group of Stanford alumni penned a letter threatening to withhold financial donations to the university unless Stanford conducted an “improved survey” that used the methodology of the AAU. The signatories included Stanford Ph.D. Paul Gowder, whose dismissal of campus due process was previously eviscerated by Scott Greenfield.

The AAU’s 2015 survey, which my colleague Stuart Taylor strongly critiqued, returned a figure suggesting that the campus sexual assault rate was roughly the same as (and perhaps even higher than) the rape rate in war-torn areas of the Congo, where rape is used as a weapon of war.

What’s the purpose of a survey if activists already know the result they desire? It clearly isn’t to discern information. Instead, the goal at Stanford—just as with Gillibrand and McCaskill—is to generate apocalyptic figures, which then can justify the diminution of due process.


  • KC Johnson

    KC Johnson is a history professor at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author, along with Stuart Taylor, of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities.

5 thoughts on “Campus Surveys Inflate Rape Statistics

  1. A saw a video not too long ago of a guy videotaping a woman’s studies class. The women definitely did not like this and blocked him from taping by amassing around him and putting their hands on him and his camera. He then got one of those camera sticks so he could hold the camera out of their reach and the women stood up on chairs or held up large pieces of cardboard. They then started to aggressively and forcefully bump into him and then claim he assaulted them. The campus police did nothing to protect the man and basically told him to get off campus.

    These women are nothing but man-hating sociopaths – given free reign to destroy men’s lives after being rejected. What kind of monsters let such women hold life destroying power over men through false accusations? Fellow sociopaths of course.

    I deeply, deeply hate feminists. Feminism is about anything but equality. Feminism is female supremacy and the destruction of men.

  2. What’s not surprising is how many men support this – most men want to be heroes and to save women.

    They (college kids) are being fed a steady diet of PC propaganda – wherein if you question it you’re a rape apologist, a racist, etc etc – but if you go along you’re a hero and you protect the weak and the innocent.

    Then – as sure as night follows day – at some point in his life some woman or minority (or combination thereof) goes after you. All that work you did to promote diversity means nothing. All that support you gave the feminist cause has no value. All the time and effort you put in to demonstrate how you were about equality and helping the weak and downtrodden counts for … well, zilch.

    About that time that man has his awakening. But by then it’s often too late. His credibility is gone. His ability to climb the ladder and to become a policy maker is now crippled. He may now have a legal record – so he’s a political second hand citizen.

    None of this is on accident.

  3. “Instead, the goal at Stanford—just as with Gillibrand and McCaskill—is to generate apocalyptic figures, which then can justify the diminution of due process.”

    I posit that these two Senators have a more selfish goal: job security.

    Apparently, Gillibrand & McCaskill haven’t reflected on how their cause célèbre bears resemblance to the anti-communist campaign of Republican Senator, Joseph McCarthy: exploiting fear, fomenting wild suspicion, and weaponizing accusations to malign innocent people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *