A recently released survey from the Association of American Universities says one out of five female students attending college are being sexually attacked.
The survey, cited in the Washington Post, looked at responses from 150,000 students at 27 top colleges and universities, including almost all the Ivy League schools, and was one of the largest surveys undertaken.
Researchers cautioned that the rate may be overstated because of hundreds of thousands of students that did not respond to the survey, and it is likely a large part of that population has not suffered a sexual attack.
But the research does add to a number of indications that sexual assault occurs quite often on college campuses, particularly among undergraduates who are living out on their own for the first time in their lives.
The survey provides great insight into the types of sexual assault that is going on. A disturbing find was that some 11 percent of female undergraduates say they have experiences incidents of penetration that would be classified as rape or sodomy. Half of that number reported it happened to them forcibly.
Many other reported incidents of unwanted kissing or touching that could be described as sexual battery.
Major institutions of learning are aware of the situation. The White House formed a task force last year to combat the problem and the survey results imply the seriousness of the issue, and how difficult it will be to get it under control.
The results are in line with an earlier poll in which one out of five young women attending a residential college said they were sexually assaulted over a four-year span. Those results were released in June of this year by the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation.
Despite some Justice Department crime data showing that female college students are less likely to be rape or sexual assault victims than those who are not students, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the number of students experiencing sexual assault is “unacceptably high” and has been for decades.
Almost all students at the 27 schools were canvassed in April and May of this year, but only 19 percent responded to the survey questions.