'The Hunting Ground' Looks at Campus Sexual Assaults

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 at 9:44 PM
'The Hunting Ground' Looks at Campus Sexual Assaults  by Macala Leigey
‘The Hunting Ground’ will be screened at Edinboro University on Thursday, March 17 at 8:30 p.m. in the Frank G. Pogue Student Center MPR, following a 7:30 p.m. panel discussion.

Rape culture.

A common expression tossed around in today’s college generation, and the muse for the 2015 CNN Film documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which sheds light on the increasing rate of sexual assault on college campuses nationwide.

Edinboro University will host a special on-campus screening of “The Hunting Ground” Thursday, March, 17 at 8:30 p.m. in the Frank G. Pogue Student Center Multipurpose Room, following a 7:30 p.m. panel discussion. The screening is sponsored by The Edinboro Film Series and the Take A Stand against Sexual Violence campaign.

The Oscar nominated and five-time award winning film follows several college-aged sexual assault victims as they seek justice from their institutions and become activists for the growing issue.

The film was produced by CNN Films and directed by Emmy Award-winning documentary director Kirby Dick, with the assistance of producer Amy Ziering. “The Hunting Ground” premiered at the Sundance Festival in 2015, before an edited version was aired on CNN.

The film has since helped influence changes in campus polices nationwide and shaped new state laws in New York and California.

“I think coming from a sexual assault survivor, it’s important for them [students] to recognize the problem and recognize how they can treat the problem in a respective manner. This is a strong and important way students can educate themselves from a documentary and from personal experiences,” Take A Stand Campaign Manager Leslie Shaeffer said.

“The Hunting Ground” screening is free for Edinboro University students and is open to the public with a $5 general admission fee. Community members and students are also encouraged to attend the sexual assault panel discussion, which will be held before the screening.

The panel discussion begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Student Center Multipurpose room, and will elaborate on the ongoing problem of rape culture on U.S. college campuses, along with how Edinboro University is campaigning against the growing issue.

Shaeffer will participate in the panel discussion, along with executive director of the crime victim center and faculty member in Edinboro’s social work department, Paul Lukach, and assistant professor in the social work department and active researcher of trauma and child sexual abuse, Dr. Molly Wolf. Assistant compliance officer for the office of social equity, Pablo Reyes-Cruz, will serve as the panel’s moderator.

Shaeffer acknowledged that the event is scheduled on a holiday, but hopes that will entice students and community members even more to attend the event.

“We do realize it [the screening] is on St. Patrick’s day. We are trying to go against the normality of college students going out and drinking.”

Shaeffer also shared that by educating students on a day where alcohol consumption is increased, students will be aware of potential dangers at the bar scene, and will exercise caution, along with the “buddy system,” in future outings.

In addition to raising awareness about the growing rape culture on college campuses, Shaeffer hopes students are motivated by the event to take action against sexual assault.

“I want them [students] to take a motivational approach to helping the Take A Stand campaign. I want them [students] to see that there is more to the documentary, and this whole event, than just coming and seeing a movie. It’s more about motivation to reduce a problem that has been ongoing.”

Along with the panel discussion and the screening of “The Hunting Ground,” the Take A Stand campaign is working on establishing a peer support group room, which will provide victims and survivors of sexual assault a safe environment to “decompress from their stressful day, as well as if they are re-victimized during a class period.”

The social equity office is also raising awareness and educating students on Title IX sexual harassment by mandating an online training course. The video oriented training program is federally mandated by law, and completion of the training is required by all students, as Edinboro University needs students to complete this in order to receive federal funding.

The online training was designed by Campus Clarity, software purchased by PASSHE, and is utilized in all 14 universities within the system.

“It’s important for students to complete their training, [as] we face the risk of losing federal funding if we’re not complying with federal law. Students do risk losing financial aid if they don’t complete the training,” said Reyes-Cruz, who oversees the training process.

Reyes-Cruz also shared that the university is sending students “friendly reminders,” via email, about completing the training.

“This is a mandated training, but we don’t want to implement repercussions. We’re here to help the students, and we want to be a positive reminder.”

As of March 3, over 1,500 undergraduate students have completed the Title IX training, out of the 5,000 that were invited to complete the program, while only 500 graduate students, out of the 1,300 that were invited, have completed the training.

The final day to complete the mandatory training is Thursday, March 31. Students will be required to complete the training every academic year, and are encouraged to contact Reyes-Cruz via phone, (814) 732-1334, or email, preyescruz@edinboro.edu, with any questions or concerns.

Macala Leigey is the News Editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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