by BETTINA ARNDT – THERE’S a big push to force universities “to do more” about sexual assault on campus, with the “Teal” independents leading the charge.
“All of us women who have attended tertiary facilities in Australia know someone who has been raped while at university,” said Monique Ryan MP.
Wentworth’s Allegra Spender was on ABC radio jumping on board the ABC’s latest questionable claim – that 275 people are sexually assaulted on our campuses each week.
This wild 275 headline figure has provided useful ammunition for media stories supporting Education Minister Jason Clare’s recent attack on the universities.
The ABC attributes the statistic to the 2021 National Student Safety Survey. Yet Universities Australia, who ran the survey, said the 275-a-week claim was not in their survey results.
It appears to have come from End Rape on Campus (EROC) activists who extrapolated from the tiny 2.7 per cent of the student population who bothered to answer the survey to the whole student population and included it in a submission (pdf) to the federal government.
Funnily enough, they got it wrong by using 1.3 million for the student population when government statistics show 1.6 million is nearer to the mark.
Those activists could have claimed 339 rapes a week if they’d got their sums right!
The manufactured statistic was derived from an extremely dubious statistical manoeuvre specifically warned against by the Australian Human Rights Commission, which ran the previous survey.
The Commission stressed that the respondents were “self-selected students who were motivated to respond”, meaning these responses “cannot be regarded as representative of the Australian university student population as a whole”.
It’s rather like counting the number of different models of cars in a smash repair shop and using this to warn drivers about the comparative safety of vehicles.
Note that this calculation was based on the tiny 1.1 per cent of students answering the survey who claimed to have been sexually assaulted in the previous year – using the broadest possible definition, which included any sexual contact such as being kissed as well as any sexual activity involving drugs or alcohol.
About half of these assaults weren’t even on campus but took place in private homes and other outside locations.
So, they weren’t campus sexual assaults at all.
The activists’ 275-a-week concoction was endlessly quoted by the ABC and all manner of feminist groups who have jumped on the bandwagon to attack the universities.
Mr Clare has responded by giving EROC just what they always wanted – namely, an “expert” independent task force to make sure the universities toe their line.
And who’s got the gig to run this show? Patty Kinnersly, the CEO of Our Watch – Australia’s main organisation for promoting information on male domestic violence.
Ms Kinnersly is to be given oversight of our campus courts and the massive Sexual Assault and Harassment (SASH) bureaucracy running rampant in our universities.
Such an oversight body had long been a goal for the activist groups.
They worked on former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s education minister, Simon Birmingham, who had the taskforce on the drawing board before Mr Turnbull was turfed out and Mr Birmingham lost his job.
When that happened, the minister’s adviser sent an email to one of the activists saying, “We were so close!”
With this Labor government so keen to act for any feminist causes, times are good for the campus activists.
In the name of keeping women safe on campus, the task force will require universities to be transparent about their responses to sexual violence incidents, promote more training of students and staff in “respectful behaviour”, more information about where to report incidents, and more accessible complaint processes. Sanctions will be applied to recalcitrant universities.
It’s enough to drive vice chancellors to drink. They’ve already had years of bending over backwards and going along with the feminist agenda.
In the year following the release of the previous (2016) survey – which, as I explained at the time, showed universities were very safe places for young women – the sector introduced 800 new initiatives against sexual violence.
These included rolling out respectful relationships and sexual consent programs, specialist counselling, first responder training, safety apps and college-based initiatives. The list goes on.
Most worrying of all was the truly Kafkaesque court system set in place across the university sector, with accused students instantly suspended from universities, facing secretive committees intent on believing all complainants, and denying accused men of normal legal protections.
Countless male students have had their education destroyed and their lives ruined.
Universities did all this, but still, it was never enough.
Earlier this month, students at the Australian National University (ANU) held their sixth annual rally against the “ongoing crisis of sexual violence at the university”.
Student Phoebe Denham was reported in a local newspaper saying that when she first planned to go to the ANU, her friends were horrified: “How could I possibly be safe if I move to ANU?”
Universities quake in fear that they will find themselves in this cruel spotlight, under attack for some claimed failure in their efforts to keep women safe.
Such is the state of terror that one university recently banned the use of their normal email system to discuss SASH matters.
All such communication must now be printed off and inserted into little yellow envelopes to be delivered by internal couriers!
Is it any wonder that many of the bosses of our university are ready to throw in the towel?
A few months ago, there were signs that some universities were prepared to stand up against the feminist onslaught when Universities Australia shelved a proposed new student consent program following objections from some vice-chancellors.
Some claim this was due to concerns about its explicit nature. Yet given these courses teach female students that they’ve been raped if they have had too much to drink and have sex and that “staring” is sexual harassment, some university bosses rightly believe that the feminist view of sexual relationships provides constant fuel for the accusations destined to end up in the campus courts.
One well-meaning Vice Chancellor who decided to personally monitor a SASH hotline found herself confronted with late-night emails from girls complaining boys were staring at them.
Universities are told they would be victim-blaming if they were to promote initiatives that could make a difference – such as finding ways to control the drinking of male and female students.
And encouraging women to know their own minds and clearly express decisions around consent rather than loading the whole responsibility on the shoulders of young men.
The whole business has long been a mug’s game for the universities, and the Albanese Government is about to make matters a lot worse – for universities and the young men in their care who deserve fair treatment.PC