Just some notes for later (still taking a break).
Headline in the Dallas Morning News: "15 percent of female undergraduates at UT have been raped, survey says"
Some quick math puts that at about 3000 rapes on a campus of about 40,000 undergraduates. The official crime stats for the City of Austin says there were under 500 rapes in a population of about 930,000 people.
Fortunately, the Dallas News did a follow-up story on the how the survey was done, which casts some light on things:
In the study, rape was defined as "having oral sex with someone, making someone perform oral sex, or penetrating someone's vagina or anus with penis, fingers or other objects without their consent, by use of verbal pressure, taking advantage of them when they're incapacitated, threatening to harm or using force."
An example of rape in the survey, for instance, would be if a perpetrator pressured someone to perform oral sex, after they'd said they didn't want to, by threatening to end the relationship or threatening to spread rumors about about the victim.
I just don't know what to say. I was made aware of this survey through Kate Clancy's Twitter feed, when she retweeted this. These are the people who are constructing the facts about academic harassment. Enough said.
There's video of the press conference here. And the report can also be downloaded here. It really does say, "Fifteen percent of undergraduate females experienced rape since their enrollment" (p. 18).
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(Update March 26)
The Guardian headline reads "Nearly 15% of female undergraduates at UT Austin report being raped". This is misleading in an important sense that is actually emphasized in the study's methodology. Respondents were not able to "report being raped"; they were asked to answer a series of "behaviorially specific questions" that the researchers then interpreted. As I point out above, the final report phrases the conclusion a bit more carefully: "Fifteen percent of undergraduate females experienced rape since their enrollment."
As far as I can tell, the consensus view among researchers in this area is not to let the respondents themselves interpret their experiences as a "rape" or otherwise. Rather they elicit descriptions of experiences that they then interpret on their behalf as rape. It would seem that if a woman allows her boyfriend to penetrate her anally under "threat" of his "ending the relationship" then the researchers consider this an instance of "rape". Indeed, even if she performed oral sex under those conditions, they would consider her "raped". It's hard to know what to do with this other than simply point it out. In any case, it is not true that the CLASE study found that 15% of undergraduate women reported being raped. The survey wasn't set up in that way. Many of the women that the survey counts in its 15% would probably not describe their experience as a rape.
Jenny Miller at New York Magazine gets the lede right: "The University of Texas at Austin is reporting that 15% of its female undergrad students have been raped."
Endnote 1 of the CLASE report: "The terms employed in this study are used in the context of social science research, and not in their legal context. They are not intended to indicate that the responses of results of the survey constitute or evidence a violation of any federal, state, or local law or policy." I take it this means that we are being told that 15% of UT Austin's female undergraduates have been raped but not necessarily in way that breaks the law (or even a UT policy.) If you've been looking for an example how the terminology of the social sciences has been completely detached from reality, I give you a new species of rape: one that doesn't constitute an illegal act.
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(Update March 27)
Imaginary headline: "Mayor Announces that 15% of women aged 18 to 25 in Austin have been raped."
Imagine journalists not following this up with the Chief of Police.
Actual statement in UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves' message to the UT Community: "[The survey found that] 15 percent of undergraduate women at UT Austin reported that they had been raped."
I have not seen any comment from the chief of the UT Austin PD.
I know that the reason for this is that what the CLASE report means by "rape" has nothing to do with what the police, or anyone else for that matter, means by "rape". My point of the comparison is that we don't let a mayor define behavior that is policed in his city in ways that diverge radically from the way the chief of police defines that behavior. Nor should a university president.
In another post, I'll take up the question of how free social scientists are to define terms for behaviors independently of how they are defined by a society's administrators and enforcers.
The story has reached Newsweek. So far I haven't seen one story that approaches this in a critical way. It's like everyone is writing the same story.