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I had first heard of The Hunting Ground when I was a senior in college. I was President of Campus Educators on Sexual Assault, and this documentary became a big topic. We even hosted a viewing of it when it was on CNN. Unfortunately, I had to work and did not get to watch it. But I felt as I was right there with everyone, as I got constant Facebook messages and saw many posts from my group, and outside the group. They were all heated with frustration that such attacks were happening on so many college campuses, and that these schools were doing nothing about it. Or if they did do something, it was often very minimal, and it contributed to the societal issue of victim blaming. I knew that I had to watch it. As soon as it was available on Netflix, I curled right up in my bed and turned it on. Little did I know that I would have to have tissues by my bedside as well.

The film opens up with videos of the excitement of getting into college. These are average students celebrating accordingly and we all feel the excitement along with them. But, there is a chilling possibility that any of them could become victims of sexual assault while on that college campus.

This documentary aims to prove that sexual assault IS a real issue, and that unfortunately, college campuses are indeed a “hunting ground.” For my group at my school, this documentary stood behind our message; it was like a twisted sigh of relief that someone was standing behind us. Often many people thought that my group was “overreacting” or that we were stating false statistics just to scare them. Many students had the attitude that “would never happen to me or my friends,” and The Hunting Ground proves them wrong.

The Hunting Ground follows several student’s stories of their campus sexual assaults, and how their colleges reacted to their reports. These are students from all walks of life. This proves that anyone can become a victim. After watching, you can easily see why so many victims decide not to tell their story; because look how easily they are blamed for what definitely is not their fault.

So often victims of sexual assault are blamed; they are made to look like they are overreacting or just want attention. Just turn on the news, or do a search of a sexual assault case. Look at the comments if you dare; many of them will be questioning the victim’s actions. Somehow blaming someone for lying about being violated in such an intimate sense is easier than accepting the fact that someone could do that to another person. The Hunting Ground addresses this hard issue. They take these student’s experiences (also; major props to their students for telling their story, we know it is not easy) to demonstrate that sexual assault is a giant issue on college campuses, and that colleges are not responding appropriately. The film demonstrates how the biggest colleges in the country, are a huge contributor to the rape culture society that we live in. Think about it, if your college did not punish you for raping a girl and continued to let you play sports, would you think that you did anything wrong? Probably not. These colleges are taking their reputation more seriously than the safety of their students. The scary fact is it is not just the colleges featured in this film.

I want to thank “The Hunting Ground” and the students who so bravely told their stories. It isn’t always easy to talk about such a serious issue. Watching the horrible heartbreak that these students went through brought me to tears. This film calls out the colleges for not doing their job; for victim blaming their own students. “The Hunting Ground” is an excellent example of not just standing by. It shows that changes do have to be made, that things are not okay the way they are. After watching this film, you simply cannot argue that sexual assault is not an issue. “The Hunting Ground” is a call to action; one that I hope you will listen to.

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  1. Erin Day Captain

    This is such a great piece. I have seen this documentary, as well as It Happened Here (which you should totally check out, it is also on Netflix). After I watched It Happened Here, I cried because I realized, finally, after two years of denial and victim blame and downplay from my friends, that I had been assaulted, too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, and know that you are a strong human being. And that you are amazing.