The Hunting Ground: Westmont Feminist Society and Office of Residence Life partner to screen film on sexual assault

Views 35 | Time to read: 2 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 4 - 2017 | By: Tyler Bradford


Last Thursday night, students gathered in the Page MPR for a screening of the 2015 documentary The Hunting Ground, a film that takes on the issue of sexual assaults on college campuses and the failures of college administrations to respond to them properly. Hosted by both the Office of Residence Life and the Westmont Feminist Society, the screening of The Hunting Ground served to further the discussion and awareness towards sexual assault on college campuses nationwide. The documentary, which follows a handful of women recounting their experiences with sexual assault, highlights not only just how giant a problem sexual assault is for American colleges, but how stunningly few colleges respond appropriately to the issue.
In particular, The Hunting Ground follows University of North Carolina students Andrea Pino and Annie Clark who, after their university’s response to their claims fail them, file a Title IX complaint against UNC and go on to form the organization known as End Rape on Campus to help students across the nation. The documentary also implies that many colleges do not truthfully report their crime statistics (especially in regards to sexual assault) so that their campuses appear safer. By suppressing that information and not acknowledging the reality of sexual assaults, universities are able to protect their own institutions at the cost of the safety of the individual.
Following the film, a four-person panel held a Q&A about topics from The Hunting Ground, sexual assault, and Westmont’s policy and ability to respond to sexual assault. The panel consisted of Director of Residence Life Shannon Balram, Page Hall Residence Director Thomas Staffileno, Counseling Staff Member Nicole Priester, and Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center Elsa Granados. The panel unanimously agreed that The Hunting Ground’s importance rests in part because it approaches sexual assault on college campuses as a highly political issue instead of an individual one, allowing it to focus on why a university or administration would want to suppress public knowledge of sexual assault. Balram, who is responsible for all sexual assault related investigations on campus, also explained that while there haven’t been many reports of sexual assault at Westmont, Westmont can only act on what is reported. It does happen. It happens everywhere. The panel also spoke about bystander education and ways you can act to prevent sexual assault and care for someone who has been sexually assaulted (e.g. don’t pressure them for answers, listen to them and give them options for how to proceed next). Both Granada and Balram presented options for help and resources for victims of sexual assault, including Westmont’s counseling office (which has a strict confidentiality policy) and the SBRCC 24/7 hotline (805- 564-3696).


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