New BJS study finds high rates of campus sexual assault

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study Wednesday that offers some insight on the prevalence of sexual assaults on college campuses.

During the 2014 to 2015 school year alone, the study found that 10.3 percent of female undergraduates had been the victim of a sexual assault, which they defined as rape or sexual violence. The BJS surveyed 23,000 students from nine different universities for the comprehensive report — 15,000 female and 8,000 male.

The findings also showed that across the nine schools, rates of sexual assault were “significantly higher among nonheterosexual than heterosexual female students.”

In a statement provided to Yahoo News, Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network or RAINN, called the findings “alarming,” and pointed out the “huge variation in rates of sexual violence” between schools.

“The rate at the worst school was nearly five times higher than at the best,” Berkowitz noted. “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.”

Berkowitz also said the study’s results “show the importance of Congress passing the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which will ensure that every campus implements a consistent annual survey.”

The mandatory sex assault survey is just one aspect of the legislation, which aims to improve the process for investigating sexual assaults on campus. Nearly two years after it was first introduced by a bipartisan coalition of senators including Democrats Claire McCaskill and Kirsten Gillibrand and Republicans Mark Warner and Marco Rubio, the bill known as CASA is still pending in Congress.