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