New study of 9 colleges finds 10.3 percent of female students were sexually assaulted just last year

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Lawmakers Working to Prevent Sexual Assault on College Campuses

A new comprehensive study released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics Wednesday confirms that women on college campuses are experiencing sexual assaults at alarming rates. The survey of 15,000 female students and 8,000 male students at nine different universities found that on average, 10.3 percent of undergraduate female students experienced sexual assault (defined as rape and/or sexual battery) just during the 2014 to 2015 academic year.

The study also found that "the prevalence of sexual assault was significantly higher for nonheterosexual than heterosexual female students at the nine schools," results that square with previous findings.

See reaction to sexual assaults in schools:

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New study of 9 colleges finds 10.3 percent of female students were sexually assaulted just last year
FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2014, file photo, students, parents and grandparents hold signs during a protest across the street from Norman High School in Norman, Okla. Police say they have arrested Tristen Kole Killman-Hardin, 18, a former Norman High School student, and accused him of raping an unconscious girl, alleging he’s responsible for an attack that helped trigger protests by his former classmates. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2014, file photo, Norman resident and University of Oklahoma law school student Carly Haiduk, left, and Cole Singleton, a junior at Norman North High School, hold signs during protest across the street from Norman High School in Norman, Okla. Police say they have arrested Tristen Kole Killman-Hardin, 18, a former Norman High School student, and accused him of raping an unconscious girl, alleging he’s responsible for an attack that helped trigger protests by his former classmates. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 7: Gallaudet University students, faculty, and staff use their phones as a light source as the power temporarily went out during a rally and protest against sexual violence on April 7, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The university is promoting the 'It's On Us' campaign, a White House-led initiative which asks men and women across America to make a personal commitment to be a part of the solution to combat campus sexual assaults. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Texas Tech freshman Regan Elder helps drape a bed sheet with the message " No means No," over the university's seal on the Lubbock campus on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Students put up the bed sheets at three locations to protest what they say is a "rape culture" on campus. The women's actions came a day after university officials sent an email to students and faculty that called activities at a recent off-campus fraternity party “reprehensible.” A picture of a banner at the Sept. 20 Phi Delta Theta fraternity gathering, briefly posted online, read, “no means yes, followed by a graphic sexual remark. (AP Photo/Betsy Blaney)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 file photo, Texas Tech freshman Regan Elder helps drape a bed sheet with the message "No Means No" over the university's seal at the Lubbock, Texas campus to protest what students say is a "rape culture" on campus. A picture of a banner at a Sept. 20 Phi Delta Theta fraternity gathering, briefly posted online, read, "No Means Yes," followed by a graphic sexual remark. A study by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the University of Windsor published on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 found that a program that taught college women ways to prevent sexual assault cut in half the chances they would be raped over the next year. It was the first large, scientific test of resistance training, and the strong results should spur more universities to offer it, experts say. (AP Photo/Betsy Blaney)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 29 : Students stand in front of the Library of the Columbia University with a mattress in support of Emma Sulkowicz's project against sexual assault, 'Carry That Weight' in which she carries her mattress around campus until her alleged rapist is expelled from the university in New York, United States on October 29, 2014. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 07: Demonstrators participating in Slutwalk march through downtown on September 7, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Slutwalk, which was started in Toronto in 2011, is a march held to educate people about rape and sexual assault and change a past culture of victim blaming. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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The rate of sexual assault at the given schools, which were not specifically named in the study, varies tremendously, with 4.2 percent of women at the lowest school reporting sexual assault and 20 percent at the highest. The discrepancy between these numbers implies that campus culture can have a major impact on sexual-assault rates. Another study released earlier this month corroborates this hypothesis; in that study, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the incidence of reported rapes rises precipitously on game days at D-1 football schools.

"Interestingly, there was a huge variation in rates of sexual violence: the rate at the worst school was nearly five times higher than at the best," RAINN president and founder Scott Berkowitz said in a statement. "This demonstrates that rape isn't a normal part of the college experience, but rather a horror that can be prevented with strong action from campus leadership and by holding more perpetrators accountable."

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