The Hunting Ground: Film Reveals Sexual Harassment on Campuses
The issue of sexual harassment and rape on college campuses continues to be overlooked even after the Duke Lacrosse scandal in 2006.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, every year up to 20 percent of women on college campuses face sexual harassment. An even more horrifying statistic, nine out of ten women claim to know their offender(s).
Writers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering brought light to this subject with last year’s film, The Hunting Ground.
The movie focuses on sexual harassment on college campuses in general, but mainly about two students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who were victims of rape, Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clarke.
Both Pino and Clarke were frustrated with the way the administration handled their complaints. They were ignored and forced to go through a complex fight of academic bureaucracy.
Universities go to great lengths to sweep these allegations under the rug in hopes to maintain their reputation.
Often time, they will lightly punish the assailants with a short suspension, or expulsion, and most commonly assigning a homework assignment about what they did and why it was wrong.
The film includes an astonishing interview with a Notre Dame police officer criticizing how rape cases were handled. In one case involving a Notre Dame football player, he was not allowed to question the student at any time he was on the athletic department’s property.
Often times, the victim will be undermined by putting fault on them for making themselves vulnerable or not properly defending themselves.
The Hunting Ground implies that administration was more interested in minimizing the rape statistic rather than the well being of the victims themselves. Interviews in the movie show college administrators admitting that they were pressured into hiding cases of sexual assault.
Enraged by this, Pino and Clarke filed a Title IX complaint (The regulations implementing Title IX require all universities receiving federal funds to perform self-evaluations of whether they offer equal opportunities based on sex and to provide written assurances to the Department of Education that the institution is in compliance for the period that the federally funded equipment or facilities remain in use) against the University of North Carolina. Shortly after, they founded the anti-rape campaign “End Rape on Campus.”
The overall message of the movie is that sexual assault on college campuses is a prevalent problem but not impossible to solve. The best way to beat it is spreading awareness and having a no-tolerance policy.