While numerous studies exist, three in particular are at the epicenter of these debates:
- the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study (also known as the "CSA");
- the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (the "NISVS"); and
- the 2014 analysis of the Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey (the "NCVS") published under the title Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013.
The studies reached radically different conclusions about the frequency of sexual assaults among college students. For example, the CSA study concluded that one in five women (20 percent) experience a sexual assault in college. The NCVS study put the number at six out of a thousand (0.6 percent). That's quite a difference.
Differences in methodology, framing of questions, and definitions might explain some of the discrepancy between the various numbers. The NCVS report has an illuminating discussion of some of these differences for those that are interested.
Like many social science questions, further study will hopefully cast more light on this important question.