Min­is­ter, univer­sity heads all sucked in by fraud of a study

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

e should all be shocked,” groaned Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity boss Brian Sch­midt, who re­porters said was “emo­tional” and “vis­i­bly up­set”.

Sch­midt was tear­ing up over a Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion re­port re­leased on Tues­day which claimed 51 per cent of Aus­tralian univer­sity stu­dents were sex­u­ally ha­rassed last year.

We should be shocked and up­set – that they per­pe­trated such a hoax. We should be shocked and up­set that not one univer­sity boss had the brains or guts to call out this fraud of a study.

We should also be fu­ri­ous Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham treated th­ese find­ings as se­ri­ous, de­mand­ing uni­ver­si­ties act when he should in­stead de­mand the HRC apol­o­gise for smear­ing and dam­ag­ing the uni­ver­si­ties that earn us $ 20 bil­lion a year from for­eign stu­dents.

Ask your­self: is it re­motely likely that 51 per cent of all univer­sity stu­dents, male and fe­male, were sex­u­ally ha­rassed last year?

Is it likely 6.9 per cent of univer­sity stu­dents were sex­u­ally as­saulted over the past two years – nearly 30 times the rate of South Africa?

There’s only one real scan­dal ex­posed by this study – that our uni­ver­si­ties must lack aca­demics with the most ba­sic re­search skills to spot how the tax­payer- funded HRC cooked the books.

Yes, they have once more in­vented a scan­dal that’s been lapped up by an un­ques­tion­ing me­dia, pro­duc­ing head­lines such as “Alarm­ing rate of univer­sity sex­ual as­saults re­vealed”. Here’s how the HRC did it.

First the HRC, uni­ver­si­ties and ac­tivists spent more than a year run­ning a cam­paign to hype the al­leged threat of sex­ual as­sault on cam­pus. Then, hav­ing primed stu­dents for out­rage, our 39 uni­ver­si­ties asked them to fill in an on­line sur­vey to re­port how of­ten they’d al­legedly been ha­rassed or as­saulted. I say “al­legedly”, be­cause none of the claims were tested.

But here is the real prob­lem with this sur­vey: fewer than 10 per cent of stu­dents re­sponded.

As the HRC ad­mits: “The sur­vey data has been de­rived from a sam­ple of the tar­get pop­u­la­tion who were mo­ti­vated to re­spond, and made an au­ton­o­mous de­ci­sion to do so. It may not nec­es­sar­ily be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the en­tire stu­dent pop­u­la­tion.”

They’re not kid­ding. Only the most mo­ti­vated stu­dents re­sponded, which pre­sum­ably in­cludes ac­tivist stu­dents, ide­o­logues and iden­tity war­riors, as well as women and men who have in­deed been ha­rassed or abused.

But 90 per cent of stu­dents couldn’t be both­ered re­spond­ing, per­haps be­cause most didn’t think there was a prob­lem need­ing fix­ing.

That means the re­sults could be ex­ag­ger­ated up to ten­fold. Nor does the fraud stop there.

Re­searchers also de­fined sex­ual ha­rass­ment so broadly that the most triv­ial be­hav­iour was in­cluded. Even “in­ap­pro­pri­ate star­ing or leer­ing” counted as ha­rass­ment. Mere stares or leers gen­er­ated a third of all the com­plaints.

This sur­vey is a dis­grace. The fail­ure of uni­ver­si­ties to call it out shows that rea­son no longer rules and the vic­tim cul­ture is king.

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