Contact: Gina Lauterio



Survey Labeled Students as Sex Offenders for Violating Policy that Didn’t Exist:

SAVE Calls on AAU to Retract Flawed Campus Study

WASHINGTON / September 23, 2015 – A widely publicized survey on campus sexual assault by the Association of American Universities (AAU) classified male students as violators of affirmative consent policies, even when such policies were not in existence on the campus at the time the survey was conducted. SAVE is calling for AAU to retract the survey and recalculate its findings.

On September 21, the AAU released its Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, which was conducted at 27 colleges around the nation. The survey reported that 23.1% of female undergraduates experience sexual assault or sexual misconduct sometime during their college careers.

The survey defined “sexual misconduct” to include failure to obtain affirmative consent. But affirmative consent is a controversial, possibly unconstitutional policy, and most colleges had not implemented the policy when AAU fielded the survey in April 2015.

An internet search of the terms “affirmative consent,” “student handbook,” and the name of each university reveals that at the time the AAU survey was conducted:

— For 15 out of the 27 colleges, no affirmative consent policy was in place when the survey was conducted

— For 9 colleges, an affirmative consent policy is currently in place, but the date of implementation is unknown

— For 3 colleges, affirmative consent policy was known to be in place when the AAU survey was carried out

The AAU report makes the claim that 11.4% of undergraduate females were “victimized” by the absence of affirmative consent. But for at least 15 out of the 27 colleges, no affirmative consent policy was in place. Therefore, absence of affirmative consent cannot be considered to represent sexual misconduct at these institutions, and the 23.1% female victimization figure is substantially over-stated

“Only in an Orwellian world would students be smeared as sex offenders for violating a policy that didn’t even exist,” notes SAVE spokesperson Sheryle Hutter. “The Association of American Universities needs to retract the survey and recalculate its findings based on whether an affirmative consent policy was in place when the survey was conducted.”

The AAU survey has been criticized for its low response rate, its failure to adequately explain “incapacitation” to respondents, and other reasons. A listing of the status of the affirmative consent policies for the 27 colleges can be seen here:

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is working to promote effective solutions to campus sexual assault: