“My rape was bad, but the way I was treated in the process was worse.”
The Hunting Ground is a documentary that explores the world of sexual assault on college campuses, and the processes through which those cases are handled. BlogDH went to IFF’s screening with the intention of gathering student reactions at the end of the film. The night did not go as expected. What started as a montage of adorable college acceptance videos, quickly escalated to a platform for the interwoven narratives of college sexual assault victims across the nation. The overarching theme was to follow the first two women in this movement to file a Title IX case against their school, UNC Chapel Hill. The personal story arcs for so many of the victims made the story hit close to home, with one student who exited the theater saying “that could be me.”
As the documentary layered the various complexities that victims face on college campuses, at times going against inert administrations, athletic infrastructures, and the fraternity system, one would stop to catch a breath and think, “this must be the end of the movie,” only to be hit with another punch to gut. When the film let out, very few attendees wanted to speak with us. Some shook their heads, declined to comment, and one person said, “I have no words.” We gathered what afterthoughts we could, but we also would like to acknowledge that the film was very intense, and many people were unable to talk about it immediately afterwards. Another student said, “I don’t know if I have anything positive on the subject,” illustrating the moroseness that hung over the audience, despite occasional messages of hope.
In many of the featured cases, students filing sexual assault charges were downright ignored. When you did see change, it was often followed by a lack of institutional memory. Many have clamored for college administrations to inform their student body of potentially dangerous areas on campus in regards to sexual assault. Wesleyan did that just a few years ago, by sending out an email warning incoming freshman to stay away from a certain fraternity house, because they could not secure it as a safe environment. It was met with outrage from alumni, parents, and some students. The next year, they did not send out the email, and by Halloween a student was raped in the fraternity house. Despite the anticipated backlash, another student leaving Granoff still insisted that “Brown-specific sexual assault data should be reported to students, because the issue goes well beyond protecting image (of the University).” Continue Reading