AAU Survey receives below average response rate ahead of May 10 deadline


Four weeks after its launch, only 52 percent of Stanford students have responded to the Association of American Universities (AAU) survey. The campus climate survey, which aims to assess the prevalence of sexual misconduct and assault on Stanford’s campus, was introduced after several years of debate surrounding the previous Stanford-specific survey that was conducted in 2015. Students have until May 10 to complete the survey, and all respondents receive a $20 Amazon gift card.

The current response rate falls short of the 2015 average of around 60 percent. So far, freshman have the highest response average among undergraduates, with 61 percent responding. Of the sophomore population, 51 percent have responded, and juniors come in next at 50 percent. Only 42 percent of seniors have completed the survey, compared to 63 percent in 2015.

Graduate student participation is also around 50 percent. The highest levels of graduate student participation come from the Graduate School of Education, with 63 percent of students responding. Students at the Graduate School of Business have the lowest participation at 40 percent.

“It would be the dream to have the whole campus participate in this survey especially because of its importance, but that is not always the case with surveys,” said Hannah Kukurugya ’21, a member of Provost Persis Drell’s advisory committee on the survey.

Kukuragya points to the high number of other surveys that have been administered this year as a reason why many students have not completed the AAU survey. She and other committee members also believe there may be some confusion about the offered incentive.

“[Students] may think it is a lottery for $20 and not that every student gets $20,” Rachel Green, J.D. ’19, another member of the Provost’s advisory committee on the survey. “Since Thursday, any email that has gone out has been more explicit about that.”

Green also said that students may feel like their responses will not make a difference.

“I have a sense that many students do have an opinion on this, and they think Stanford doesn’t really want to know,” Green said. “I get that it’s very reasonable for students to feel uncertain about how much the University actually cares about their individual thoughts, but how else can Stanford act on them if it doesn’t hear from the students? So if you have opinions, Stanford wants to hear from you. The more people the better,” Green said.  

Provost Persis Drell has sent three emails since the survey’s launch encouraging students to take the survey.

“In order to capture a representative view of how these issues affect our community, we need as many students as possible to respond — even if you believe these issues don’t directly relate to you or your experiences here,” wrote Drell in an email to students.

The survey asks questions about experience with sexual assault and misconduct as well as places students feel either safe or unsafe on campus and students’ knowledge and opinions of campus resources. After the 2015 campus climate survey found that only 1.9 percent of students reported experiencing sexual assault — well below the AAU average of 11.9 percent— many decried Stanford for circulating a survey that did not accurately capture the prevalence of sexual assault on campus.

“It was not handled well and students were really upset about it,” Green said. “The more students who care about this and take the survey and give their feedback, the better of a chance Stanford has to get it right this time, and I want Stanford to get it right. The whole country is watching. If there was ever a time for the University to really listen to students, this is the time. It is really a high priority for Stanford right now.”

Contact Sophie Regan at sregan20 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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