As seniors prepare to embark on new journeys, they have started talking about their finances and other issues of personal responsibility. However, they are largely silent on one important issue that will impact their day-to-day lives on college campuses – sexual assault. “The Hunting Ground” is a documentary reporting on the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses across America and it is a must see for all soon-to-be college students.
Prestigious colleges such as Harvard University, UC Berkeley, University of Southern California, UNC Chapel Hill are all mentioned in the video, along with hundreds of others. We briefly hear about this ongoing issue at college campuses through PSAs and on social media, but do we truly understand the widespread prevalence of the matter?
“The Hunting Ground” adds an even more damning perspective. While informing family, friends, and higher authorities is important, “The Hunting Ground” sheds a light on the unfortunate outcome that many students face when they report sexual harassment on campuses. College administrators rarely end up helping the victims, opting instead to protect their school’s reputation. What happens to these women after a college fails to follow up with the reported assaults is truly devastating to watch. However, the documentary provides countless stories and statistics on the issue that help spread awareness.
In “The Hunting Ground,” statistics shown regarding expulsions at UVA are shocking:
“At the University of Virginia, there were 205 reported assaults between 1998 and 2013, and zero resulting expulsions. There were 183 expulsions for cheating and other honor code violations during the same time period.”
This documentary reveals how most colleges, like UVA, have thus determined that plagiarizing a term paper is a more serious offense than committing rape.
Rolling Stone Magazine’s “A Rape on Campus,” published in 2014, recounted the story of “Jackie,” who was allegedly the victim of a group sexual assault by several members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at UVA during a chapter house party as part of an initiation rite. It was later found by other journalists that the article’s claims had a significant number of disparities. Rolling Stone then issued an apology for the story.
There are some people who believe that statistics, like the one above, are overblown or that accusations by victims are false. And this article by Rolling Stone Magazine has not helped those with legitimate claims of sexual harassment and assault.
“He said, she said.” Unfortunately, more times than not, the rapist who commits the crime rarely faces criminal charges because their story is more respected than the victims’ story. Administrators are quoted as saying that they are pressured to deny that sexual violence occurs on their campuses because acknowledging that becomes a public relations problem for the university. This, along with the potential for lawsuits from students who have been expelled, can financially hurt a university.
It’s not just about carrying mace on college campuses or watching your drink – the bigger issue at hand is women’s representation and gender equity. It’s about women’s equality, not how to keep yourself safe. And as administrators make the choice to deny violence, it limits the voices of women in America. By choosing the man’s word over the woman’s, they have just represented the societal norm that “the woman was asking for it” because she was drinking, flirting, wearing revealing clothing, or anything else that portrays women as sexual objects.
Still not sure how you feel about this issue? Watch “The Hunting Ground” and then decide.