Colleges Begin Distributing Survey On Campus Sexual Assault, Despite Concerns About Timing And Ethics

Several universities on Wednesday began distributing a survey to measure rates of sexual violence on college and university campuses, developed by the Association of American Universities.

Dartmouth College, Yale University, Princeton University, the University of Southern California and Michigan State University on Wednesday became the first of the 28 participating universities to begin distributing the elite higher education group’s survey. The participating schools have until the beginning of May to complete the study.

With the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of students, AAU’s study is one of the largest campus climate surveys on sexual assault to date. But it is being deployed in the wake of criticism from a group of professors who have raised concerns that the trade group’s survey is being rushed through and may not adhere to proper ethical standards.

The survey was developed following a push by the White House last year to have every college issue a questionnaire to examine sexual assault on campus, so that schools can better understand where they need to focus their anti-rape efforts.

In recent months, the professors have expressed concern that the AAU survey, which was crafted over the course of roughly three months, was being rushed, not allowing enough time to conduct a pilot survey or to allow feedback from stakeholders.

Sarah Cook, a researcher who has criticized the AAU survey and associate dean of the honors college at Georgia State University, said the study was being deployed “awfully fast.”

“Given what [AAU President] Hunter Rawlings said in terms of using this opportunity to get ahead of federal mandates, it doesn’t seem that the survey is being conducted for the purpose of understanding, but in terms of checking the box off in terms of compliance,” she said, referring to Rawlings’ —> Read More