ASHE SCHOW: No more campus sexual assault legislation, begs national group of college administrators.
Colleges don’t need any more sexual assault laws or policies, says Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
I would only disagree in that legislation might be needed to guarantee basic due process rights to students who are accused — sadly, the current campus culture ignores such constitutional rights.
Kruger, in an op-ed for the Washington Post, has taken issue with the notion that colleges were not previously taking campus sexual assault seriously.
“Advancing half-truths and twisting statistics for political gain does nothing to prevent incidents of sexual assault, help victims or make campuses stronger,” Kruger wrote. “Public and private college and university administrators, advocates and other experts are working together proactively and students are safer now than they have ever been.” . . .
Kruger added that multiple laws on the books for campus sexual assault are creating confusion. New York, which recently passed a “yes means yes” consent policy, now has three different definitions of consent.
That alone is a due process violation. Related: How an Influential Campus Rape Study Skewed the Debate: Widely cited study relies on surveys that don’t actually have anything to do with on-campus sexual assaults.
President Obama’s January 2014 memo announcing the creation of a White House task force to address campus sexual assault repeatedly cites Lisak. His research provides evidence of the notion that “campus rapists are often serial predators” who perpetrate a “cycle of violence” unless stopped, according to the memo.
The 2002 Lisak study that supposedly makes that case—”Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists”—is fundamental to the activist campaign to reduce campus rape. But despite the study’s prominence, its assertions about the serial nature of campus rapists are dubiously sourced, according to a thorough investigation conducted by Reason contributor Linda LeFauve.
The study pooled data from four separate surveys of interpersonal violence that were conducted at the University of Massachusetts-Boston during the ‘90s, at which time Lisak was employed as an associate professor. Lisak’s study had a total sample size of 1,882 men, 120 of whom gave responses in the surveys indicating that they were predators. Of the 120 rapists, 76 were judged to be repeat offenders, leading to the oft-cited claim that the majority of campus sexual assault is the work of serial predators who remain “undetected,” i.e., are never convicted for their crimes.
The claim suffers when scrutinized. For reasons left unclear, the four surveys that contributed data are never actually identified in the study. In fact, Lisak struggled to recall which ones he used when asked about them during the course of a telephone interview with LeFauve. When LeFauve suggested to him that the data in question came from his doctoral students’ dissertations and masters’ theses, he agreed that this was “probably” the case.
I spoke with James Hopper, one of Lisak’s former students at UMass-Boston, who confirmed that the survey data he conducted for his own dissertation was included in the 2002 study. He also identified several other students as near-certain contributors via their masters’ theses and dissertations.
What’s remarkable about these surveys is that they don’t actually have anything to do with campus sexual assault (aside from the location where they were conducted). . . . This is quite the revelation: The canonical text of the campus sexual assault crisis is filled with data repurposed from academic papers that never intended to survey campus violence in the first place.
Sounds bogus to me. But Kirsten Gillibrand et al. are happy to use it to ruin lives.