The Hunting Ground
By Dan Clendenin
This movie documents the disturbing epidemic of sexual violence on our college campuses — and epidemic is the right word. This year about 100,000 women will be sexually assaulted at college. About 88% of them will never report the incident. The reasons for this have now become familiar — shaming and blaming the victim, threats, retaliation, and intimidation. Worst of all, as girl after girl explains in this film, university officials are either dismissive of their stories or actively complicit in covering up the problem. For them, reports about sexual violence aren’t a moral or legal problem, they’re a public relations threat to their branding and fundraising (think athletics and fraternities). In 2014, for example, 45% of colleges reported zero sexual assaults on their campuses. At Stanford, between 1996 and 2013, there were 259 reports of sexual assault and exactly one expulsion. And college presidents? 95% of them say that their institutions handle sexual assault reports in an “appropriate” way. The film interviews a broad array of witnesses to this epidemic — a clinical psychologist who’s an expert on the subject, professors and deans at universities, and a college security officer who quit because of his university’s anemic response to sexual violence. But what really drives this movie are the very brave young women who relate their experiences of sexual violence, and of what they are now doing, on a national level, to change our culture of impunity. For a similar and equally disturbing film see Audrie and Daisy (2016).
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