Sunday, March 15, 2015

"The Hunting Ground" exposes the problem of universities' looking the other way to sexual assaults on campuses


The documentary “The Hunting Ground”, by Kirby Dick, magnifies the incidence of sexual assault on American college and university campuses, and the “systematic” pressure on university officials to look the other way.
   
The documentary states that 90% of campus assaults are performed by 8% of male students (or outsiders), and a significant portion of this 8% comes from scholarship athletes, many of whom could not have gotten admitted on academics alone. It also covers assault on males, which, while less common, happens and is traumatic.  When it does occur, it seems to be more about bullying and asserting power and control than about real sexuality or attraction.
  
The film starts at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (“UNC”) but quickly covers problems on many other campuses, including Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, Notre Dame, OU, UVa, KSU, KU, FSU, and Occidental.  At times, the visuals in the film confuse similar bell towers at Berkeley and UNC!
  
When women try to press charges, they find administrators and sometimes local police unwilling to help them.  An incident at Florida State involving a start football player is covered in detail.  Police and district attorneys, under political pressure over alumni donations for sports, were very slow to investigate and prosecute.
  
Relatively few students are expelled.  At both UNC and UVa, zero male students were expelled for sexual assault, whereas at UVa about 180 were expelled for honor code violations! At Harvard, a student was expelled and, after appeal, allowed to return the following year.
  
Administrators also tend to blame the female students for provoking men. 
  
In some of these cases, men try to claim that sex was consensual, and it can be hard for prosecutors to prove that it was by force.  However, many cases start around fraternity houses (some particular national fraternities are mentioned) and at parties with alcohol (often underage).  Since campuses typically have advanced camera and alarm systems, it would be surprising that outdoor nighttime attacks were not prosecuted.
  
I’ve covered my expulsion from William and Mary in 1961 for the “opposite” issue here, admitting homosexuality.  But when I was in a dorm again, in graduate school at KU in the late 1960s, sometimes men would brag about conquests, but also speak about fear that a girl would claim later it was rape.  One roommate, normally nice, once when drunk said “no girl does that to me” after being stiffed, and became belligerent.  There was a tendency for men to speak about sex in crude terms, and to expect prostitution to be cheap.

The recent incident at OU with the racist lyric (even invoking lynching) shows that universities can go after fraternities, despite the idea that the "Greek" system brings the academic world a lot of alumni money and provides a "good old boy" network for business and politics. 
    
The official site is here.  The film is distributed jointly by Radius TWC and CNN.

  
I saw the film at the Landmark E Street Cinema Sunday afternoon, before a large audience in a large auditorium, and it applauded. 


Wikipedia attribution link for photo of the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower at UNC, by Yeungb, under Create Commons 3.0 Share Alike license. 

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