Mischaracterization of sexual assault numbers

October 31, 2018

(Updated Oct. 31, 2018, 2:00 pm)

A point in the Big 12's “Report on Verification of Implementation of 105 Recommendations by Baylor University” -- amplified this morning by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram – contains a mischaracterization of the results of the University’s publicly available campus climate survey.

The FWST's headline this morning reads, “56 percent of Baylor students have experienced sexual harassment by a faculty member, per report.” This comes from a bullet point on page 43 of the Big 12’s report, which states “Climate Survey results indicate that 56% of Baylor students have experienced sexual harassment by a faculty member that involved sexist or sexually offensive language, gestures, or pictures.”

This statement is factually incorrect.

During the verification process, Baylor provided the Big 12 with a summary list of accomplishments and activities following the University’s 2017 climate survey that failed to summarize the survey results completely and accurately. This summary list was subsequently included in the Big 12 report released yesterday on page 43. Baylor has been in contact with the Big 12 to communicate the accurate number of 17 percent of respondents.

Baylor's 2017 Social Climate Survey Findings (page 21) actually found that only 31 percent of students who responded to this question indicated that they experienced sexual harassment by a faculty, instructor, or staff member in the form of sexist gender harassment. This covers everything from a person being treated differently because of their sex to offensive sexist remarks (e.g., she looks nice, I like her haircut or she runs like a girl), and does NOT refer to attempts to establish a romantic/sexual relationship, unwanted touching, etc.

The 56 percent number actually refers to 56 percent of this 31 percent -- in other words, roughly 17 percent of respondents to this specific question. While 17 percent is still an unacceptable number -- and Baylor is working to improve the behavior that would cause this -- it is a far cry from 56 percent of Baylor’s entire student body.