A screening of The Hunting Ground sparks conversation by Carol Commissiong
Rape and sexual assaults on college campuses have reached a record high 31,300 for the period 1995–2013, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary film that aired on CNN last month, brings the statistics to life.
MCA’s Documentary Forum, the Colin Powell School and the Women’s Studies Program hosted screenings last week at CCNY. A panel of experts led a community conversation after one of the screenings.
The film hits some heart wrenching notes and brought back memories to victims who have been sexually assaulted and date raped. Only 1 out of 300 rapes gets indicted. The film documented testimonies of victims, attorneys, detectives and some school employees from numerous schools throughout America. Two of the survivors Andrea Pino, a University of North Carolina student who lost her virginity when she was raped on campus, and Annie Clark another UNC student, created the Courage Project as a stand against rape on campus across America.
The documentary mentions several high-profile cases of Ivy League schools, including Columbia University and Harvard Law School. At Florida State University, football star and accused rapist Jameis Winston’s lawsuit kept the topic in the national media spotlight. The DNA sample from perpetrator Winston matched the sample taken from the victim Erica Kinsman’s rape kit. However, Winston claimed sex was consensual. Winston won the Heisman trophy in 2013 and wasn’t prosecuted for his 2012 alleged rape and is now NFL star. Most of these cases found no justice for their victims.
“The Hunting Ground” notes that many layers and complexities hinder survivors from receiving the justice they deserve. In the film, rapes reported to school administration never reach law enforcement, and victims are told it’s their fault. “Rape is like football, what would you have done differently? How much did you have to drink?” said a female school counselor to Pino. Two male students reported sexual assault, but one was told, “Take some time off to forget about it and then come back,” and another committed suicide.
At fraternities, sexual assaults and date rapes happen far too frequently. The documentary captured Yale University frat members chanting outside female dorms, “No means yes, yes means anal.”
The film maker Kirby Dick, who was nominated for “The Invisible War” a film on rape in the military, did a great job documenting victims and using real news footage of actual events which showed some perpetrators during trials. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to speak to the accused. Most university’s staffs refused as well. Some college officials at Harvard and Florida State are fighting back against this documentary which serves as an awareness of what goes on at some of the biggest and most sought after universities and colleges nationally.
CCNY offers ProtoCall, a crisis hotline offering free, confidential counseling to students reporting sexual assault; the number: 855-582-6069. This crisis hotline has been available to residential students at the Towers for more than a year and has recently been extended to all students on campus. Students can also communicate with a trained crisis counselor by texting GO to 741-741.