“The Hunting Ground”: A Closer Look at Sexual Violence and Campus Intervention

BY CHRIS FRYMAN

On Thursday, April 16, SNC in 3D presented the new documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which takes a critical look at universities’ lack of reporting of sexual assaults. SNC in 3D is a subsidiary of Prevention and Wellness Education and presented the documentary in collaboration with the Cassandra Voss Center,

The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in February, primarily followed the story of two women, Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino, who are leading a crusade against colleges’ under-reporting sexual assaults across the nation. Both women are graduates of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the first universities to be investigated by the United States Department of Education for egregious under-reporting of sexual assaults.

Despite the execution of Title IX, a law that guarantees a safe learning environment for everyone, under-reporting has remained an issue of dire importance. Several interviewees in the film cited several factors as to why this is a problem, as well as to why this culture is perpetuated throughout society. Reasons included the unwarranted culture of victim-blaming that severely hinders victims’ willingness to speak, as only about 12 percent of women who have been assaulted file a report against their perpetrator.

The film documented dozens of colleges and universities across the country, including the University of Southern California, Arizona State University, Yale University and Harvard University, among several other prestigious schools. Students from each of these schools and more shared their stories of horrible encounters and dealing with sexual violence. Most of these women were discouraged from involving the police due to the bad image that a case would project on the school.

Protecting schools’ images was cited as a primary reason for the lack of reporting among universities in America. In 2014, it was reported that 45 percent of campuses reported zero sexual assaults, with more than a handful citing a reluctance to falsely report cases as a primary reason for not reporting. However, several studies have found that the false reporting rate for rapes and sexual assaults is somewhere between two and eight percent, meaning that well over 90 percent of these cases do not conclude with the accuser proven wrong.

According to the film, even with reporting and admissions of guilt, between zero and five percent of perpetrators are expelled from their university and only 26 percent of rapes result in arrest, while 20 percent are prosecuted.

Although the film did have its lighter moments, opening with the reaction videos of several students receiving letters of admission to their dream schools, each second of happiness was met with sixty seconds of somber contemplation.

In perhaps one of the more surprising turns of the film, one of the final speakers was Erica Kinsman, a former student of Florida State University who is probably better-known as the woman who accused FSU quarterback and future number-one draft pick Jameis Winston of sexual assault. She recounted her tale, providing an overwhelming amount of evidence against Winston, FSU and the Tallahassee Police Department.

At its conclusion, however, the audience was provided with hope. Currently, over 95 universities in the country are under investigation for under-reporting sexual assaults. Even better may be the activism that is occurring on hundreds of campuses across the nation.

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