One eye-brow-raising issue is the “about $85,000” cost for each institution to administer the survey. In addition, many sexual assault researchers have criticized the AAU for not planning to release campus-specific data and for an overall lack of transparency in the development of the survey. In fact, even though the “aggressive” timeline set forth by the AAU promises the survey will be ready for April administration, it has yet to be developed. Westat, the company AAU contracted to help design and implement the survey, is also not without controversy: last year it paid a $1.5 million to settle claims that it systematically discriminated against women and minorities in its hiring process.
Hunter Rawlings III, the AAU’s president and Cornell’s president from 1995 to 2002, argues that the purpose of this survey is to prevent Congressional efforts to pass legislation that would mandate all universities participate in government-designed sexual assault surveys. Such a bill, co-sponsored by New York Democrat Senator Kristen Gillibrand, already exists.
An AAU press release reads: “[W]e have been deeply concerned about the possibility of Congress or the Administration mandating that campuses conduct a government-developed survey. Such an initiative would likely be a one-size-fits-all survey that would provide potentially misleading data, given the extraordinary diversity of higher education in our country, and would not reliably assess the campus culture on this issue.”