Editors decided not to pursue normal polling procedures of approaching people at random and asking them questions directly. Although this may have produced a more random sample and a greater response rate, editors felt it would eliminate all privacy for victims. DP staffers distributed about 3000 polls at University dining halls during lunch hours Thursday. To encourage a wide response, students who filled out the poll received a raffle ticket making them eligible for a $50 prize. Altogether, 1265 students returned completed polls. Of these, 730 were men and 535 were women. The DP printed 1750 polls for each sex. Staffers distributed all of the male polls but roughly 500 female polls were left over. The response rate of about 42 percent was below what editors had hoped for. Editors chose to distribute the polls at Dining Service because it would limit the number of times people would respond, it was a place where large numbers of students would be at a given time, and students would have time to sit down and fill it out. The expected limitations of the poll were that victims of rape or sexual assault may not be comfortable filling the poll out in public and that it was open to joke answers. In addition, only students who purchased Dining Service contracts were able to take the poll. Statistics Professor David Hildebrand said readers should critically assess the poll's results, adding that "it's certainly got enough room to be misleading." "I would guess that you are probably getting respondents who are more concerned, more involved," Hildebrand said. "I would guess that you're not getting responses from people who see it as a marginal issue." Hildebrand said other problems with the poll include the lack of responses from people who do not eat at dining halls, the possibility that questions are "leading," and possible social pressure to give the "right" answer. "When you get in a situation where there's a clearly socially frowned on answer, you worry about people tailoring their answers," he said. Hildebrand said he was concerned about the people who received a poll but did not choose to answer it. "Can you comfortably say that the folks who didn't return the polls are the same as the ones who did?" he asked. He said, however, that the raffle was "an honorable try to improve response rate," and that the poll does have some value. "It's no worse than a lot of polls or market research studies," he said. He said the problems demonstrate "how miserably hard it is to poll," especially on such a "touchy" subject. "To get anything close to a good poll is a terribly hard proposition," he said. Students also complained about problems with the poll. Many said the questions were too leading and seemed designed to provoke certain responses. Others said questions left too many gray areas and that there should have been a "maybe" option on many. Others complained about the colors chosen for the surveys -- men's polls were white and women's were pink. One woman complained said, "I can tell this is for me because it's pink. Grow up! Rape is about gender typing." Another woman added, however, "You shouldn't print female questionaires on pink. P.C Police will go into conniption fits."Comments powered by Disqus
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