When with great fanfare, the AHRC last week released "Changing The Course", its report on sexual harassment and assault at Australian universities, commentators divided along the usual cultural left/cultural right lines. The AHRC kicked things off with a few horror stats, suggesting that 51% of all students at 39 Australian universities had been sexually harassed in the last two years, and 6.9% had been sexually assaulted (on or off campus). "End campus rape now" went up the signs on Twitter; talk of an epidemic went round the traps.
The right responded by reaching into the report to grab other stats, to announce that things weren't so bad. Bettina Arndt grabbed another assault figure -- 1.6% of students in university settings -- and said with baiting glee that this was "a great result", all things considered. Mark Latham and Andrew Bolt piled in on the nature of the survey underlying the report, which relied on voluntary, self-selecting, responses. Lenore Taylor hit back in The Guardian, defending the report’s safeguards against skewing by self-reporting, and largely endorsing its tone of quiet emergency, demanding instant action.