‘The Hunting Ground’ screening attracts large campus audience
The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team hosted a screening of The Hunting Ground on Thursday night in the Global Scholars Hall and the turn-out was unbelievable.
Minutes before the screening started, a line filled the back of the room with individuals who were unable to find seating, and a crowd gathered at the entrance to try and get in. The screening started about 15 minutes after its projected time because of technical difficulties and audience members were still flooding in.
The first scene of the film showed students receiving acceptance letters from their dream universities and looking ecstatic with their families. But moments after, the seriousness of the documentary was addressed, as one of the main subjects said she and another woman were sexually assaulted before their first day of classes.
The Hunting Ground used testimonies and interviews from many individuals, but it centered on two women – Annie Clark and Andrea Pino – who started the movement of filing Title IX complaints with the Department of Education to change how universities react to campus sexual assaults. This journey, coupled with the stories told by survivors and family members, painted a picture of an aspect of university culture that is vastly more problematic than is perceived to be by the general public. In addition to the problem of rape, the documentary discussed a trend of underreporting and hesitance to punish perpetrators at universities across the nation.
The University of Oregon was featured in the documentary because of a case in March 2014, in which three basketball players were accused of allegedly sexually assaulting a freshman. One of those players had transferred to Oregon with a history of sexual assault at another school. Former university president Michael Gottfredson was also featured in the documentary defending the UO’s administrative response to the allegations.
That video clip was taken the same day that Psychology professor Jennifer Freyd filed a complaint that UO was in violation of the Clery Act (a federal law that requires that universities report specific instances of assault), she told the audience after the film. She called for increased transparency and “truth telling” about sexual assault and prevention policies at the UO.
Following the screening, Freyd – a leading expert in sexual assault research nationwide – and UO professor Carol Stabile discussed some of the research surrounding sexual assault at UO, including a report called 20 students per week compiled by a faculty task force, a report compiled by a Presidential Review Panel and research conducted by Freyd. Michelle De La Cruz, the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Coordinator at the ASUO Women’s Center, also spoke about her experience as a survivor of assault, and explained how students could find resources or get involved in advocacy work.
The most surreal part of the experience had to be seeing the UO insignia and a former UO president in a film about sexual assault on campus, while watching it in the University of Oregon’s Global Scholars Hall. In a Q&A session after the screening, many students mirrored that feeling and asked questions about UO’s prevention, reporting and survivor response policies, which were answered sometimes by Freyd and Stabile and sometimes by other members of the audience – which included some UO administrators and faculty members.
For those who missed out, there will be another screening of The Hunting Ground on May 1st at the Bijou Metro. For more information visit the Bijou Metro website.