Credit: Shutterstock

A 2015 study found that 1 in 4 college women experience some form of sexual assault during their time on campus, and a number of colleges and universities have come under fire for mishandling these cases. Researchers at Columbia University recently wrapped up a study about campus sexual assault that could improve policies to protect students and help survivors.

Researchers tracked students’ attitudes towards sex, how they interacted with one another, and looked for risk or preventative factors for sexual violence.

Credit: Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The study’s goal is to examine how the Columbia undergraduate community approaches sex, which could shed light on how sexual violence has become so common on college campuses. The co-directors of SHIFT, Jennifer Hirsch, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and Claude Ann Mellins, Professor of Medical Psychology at the Columbia University Medical Center, hope the study will ultimately result in the development of “innovative and holistic strategies for sexual assault prevention.”

As part of the study, researchers went to bars and parties to examine students’ approach to sex.

According to The Columbia Daily Spectator, researchers are in the process of analyzing the data they gathered over the past two years. Once they’ve concluded, the findings will be released in journal articles along with recommendations about how to prevent sexual violence.

Hirsch and Mellins emphasize that sexual violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum — and they couldn’t be more correct.

Although some people like to pretend that rape culture is a myth, it undoubtedly influences the way people view sex and consent.

Credit: Jaco Marais/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Hopefully, colleges and universities across the nation will take a long look at the study’s results and recommendations. As of January, 223 schools were under investigation for Title IX violations related to sexual violence. SHIFT is an important step in preventing sexual violence, and educating colleges about how to handle reports when students are assaulted on campus.