This archived article was written by: Rodrigo Leon
Major universities mishandling rape and sexual assault is the underlining theme of “The Hunting Ground” which was screened on USU Eastern’s campus Oct. 20-21.
Using personal stories, “The Hunting Ground” brings to light the problem of campus rape to the center stage with a number of startling statistics: 16 percent of women are raped on college campuses and 88 percent of rapes aren’t reported. It also makes it clear that this isn’t held to only a few campuses, but is a problem across the nation. “The Hunting Ground” explains that the injustices don’t end there, but continued by the universities and police departments.
The movie asserts that most college campuses deter women from reporting to keep numbers low. They do this by, as the movie depicts, revictimizing women. Using questions like “Did you fight back,” “how much did you have to drink,” and “did you say no?” Then they say statements like, “You have no evidence” and “it means he loves you.” These tactics deter women from reporting so universities can artificially keep their sexual assault numbers low. This has led to approximately 80 percent of sexual assault cases going unreported.
Even if women push their case through the system, schools were still reluctant to take action against the perpetrator. The film gives statistics for some major colleges.
Stanford had 259 reports of sexual assault, during 1996-2013, with only one expulsion/suspension and the University of Virginia had 205 reports, during 2000-13, with zero expulsions/suspensions. Many other universities were accused of having similar practices. The movie indicts many institutions of giving out minor punishments for people responsible of sexual assault. Punishments ranging from an apology letter, to community service, to an eight-week suspension.
Women who had been raped by athletes fared worse with the movie indicting specific cases like Florida State University star quarterback, Jameis Winston, who was accused of rape and the only actions taken happened two years after the original report had been filed. Then the assault case of a woman from Saint Mary’s, sister school to Notre Dame. Having been raped by a football player, but when a Notre Dame Police Officer tried to bring in the player for an interrogation, he encountered red tape. He was told he couldn’t directly contact the football player or anyone related to the athletics program. The case was dropped by Notre Dame.
The problem doesn’t only exist because of college athletics. “The Hunting Ground” explains how the frat system contributes greatly to the problem. It claims that fraternities glorify sexual conquests. The movie shows a video of fraternity pledges chanting “no, means yes, yes, means anal” around a sorority house at Yale.
Many fraternities have being even given nicknames because of how many assaults occur there; SAE “Sexual Assault Expected,” and DKE “Date Rape City.” Yet schools refused to take action against them because the universities need the fraternities more than the fraternities need the universities. The fraternity system has more representation in the U.S. Congress than any university. Also donations from alumni come mainly from fraternity graduates. In 2013, 60 percent of all donations, adding up to more than $100 million, came from fraternity alumni.
Now movements have begun against this injustice. “The Hunting Ground” follows two girls named Annie and Andrea, who had been raped while attending the University of North Carolina. They tried to get UNC to take some form of action against the perpetrators but UNC refused to do anything. From there they decided to file a Title IX violation against UNC for not allowing a safe learning space.
They quickly became national news, and were contacted by other survivors and activists. They started speaking around the nation teaching women how to file Title IX violations. They also spoke privately with survivors to help them talk about their experience to reclaim their lives. Then they began to speak publicly at campuses helping better the situation as not only them but other rape survivors shared their stories, effectively putting a face to the crime. There existed a lot of opposition to bring awareness to the issue. Annie and Andrea had started getting death threats early on in their movement, and they were not the only ones.
“The Hunting Ground” is 104 minutes of brutal honesty. The cine-activist project gained amazing reviews from many sources. The movie delivers a powerful message in a way that makes it hard to ignore. It was screened at USU Eastern thanks to the assistance from Chancellor Joe Peterson, and the social work and LGBT+ clubs.