Mac Engel

Big 12 did Baylor no favors by including misleading stat in verification report

One day after the Big 12 issued it verification report on Baylor, the school took justified objection to a misleading stat about sexual harassment among faculty members at students.
One day after the Big 12 issued it verification report on Baylor, the school took justified objection to a misleading stat about sexual harassment among faculty members at students. The Texas Tribune

A troubling statistic included in the Big 12’s verification report of Baylor has led school officials to justifiably dispute the accuracy of a particular figure.

On Tuesday, the Big 12 released its verification report on Baylor University’s updating and implementation of Title IX policies and procedures. The report was drafted and completed by the law firm that conducted the investigation for the conference, at a cost of $1.6 million to Baylor.

Included in the 55-page report, on page 43, is the following graph: “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. In response, the (Baylor) Title IX Office has offered targeted and individualized trainings for faculty members in Baylor departments on an as needed / as requested basis.

“Further, Baylor recognizes that additional training and education on this issue must be included in its annual online training module for faculty and staff. Baylor currently has begun the process for evaluating and improving this training.”

On Wednesday, after a story and headline including this statistic was published by the Star-Telegram, Baylor officials reached out to correct the figure.

In response to this story, Baylor said, “The statement is factually incorrect. 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.”

As of Wednesday morning, the Big 12 said it was looking into the matter. The report was not written by the Big 12 but rather the law firm that conducted the investigation.

The law firm obtained the original statistic from the “Social Climate Survey” conducted by Baylor in Nov. of 2017.

A few hours after the Big 12’s report was published on Tuesday, the Star-Telegram contacted Baylor for a comment. The school issued a statement from BU President Linda Livingstone.

In Livingstone’s statement, she did not object to anything written in the Big 12’s report.

It was not until the following day, when a stat buried deep in the report created a headline, was an objection justifiably raised.

An estimated 125 reports of sexual assault or harassment were made at Baylor in four years. A lawsuit alleges 52 of those were committed football players. Here are the names and policies you should know to understand what happened.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

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