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
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)
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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