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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 12. 1965.

Anger Over Sex Queries

Anger Over Sex Queries

A Current Survey on student views on religion and sex could create a reaction against future surveys carried out by responsible bodies.

This is the opinion of a university staff member with experience of opinion surveys.

The survey is being circulated by Sociology I students as a research project.

Salient showed a copy of the survey questionnaire to the staff member after complaints had been received from students that the survey was unnecessarily offensive.

After reading the survey, he commented that objections to one survey tended to harm public confidence in all surveys.

He said that the survey was in general competently drafted.

However, he did not think it was desirable for a survey by Stage I students to cover such a sensitive area.

He agreed that a significant number of people would probably regard the survey as offensive.

The survey was mailed to slightly more than a hundred students in unsealed envelopes. An unsigned letter which accompanied it gave no clue to the identity of its originators.

University Address

The letter, which gave the university as its only address, described the survey as "a research project (which is) part of our sociology course."

An addressed envelope gave the Student Union as the return address for the survey, although the envelope was originally addressed to the Victoria University School of Social Science.

Students Association secretary Roger Lawrence said that a group of students had been granted permission by executive to select addresses from the Students Association records.


In America, abuse of the survey process has set up a reaction against surveys.

It would be sad if this easily avoidable situation were to arise here.

The university should ensure that surveys on controversial topics which purport to be sent out by the university serve a greater purpose than the education of stage 1 students.—Editors.

Student Project

Dr. W. R. Burch, of the School, of Social Science, told Salient that the survey was a project initiated by a group of Sociology I students. It was simply a class exercise He agreed that criticism could be directed at the questions selected by the students.

The survey contains 32 questions, and students who spoke to Salient objected to some of the questions asked on sexual behaviour.

One student commented that he was strongly in favour of such a survey when conducted by a responsible survey authority which revealed its identity.

"But I find the questions these Stage I students are asking personally offensive," he said.

Another student complained that ambiguities and one direct contradiction in terms made some of the questions meaningless.

He also was not prepared to answer a survey which gave no indication of its origin. He felt that it was impossible to answer questions such as the one which asked what percentage of students had "frequent sexual intercourse with anyone who is willing."

"I can only wonder whether the students know what they are talking about when they refer to self-abuse as heterosexual relations," he said.