Welcome to another edition of Movie Review Monday!
In honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, this week's film is the 2015 documentary, The Hunting Ground, which explores the college administrative culture that has existed for years and propagated an epidemic of sexual assaults between students.
I've heard a lot about this film, and have seen that many campuses have shown it to their staff and students. I think this is required viewing for both groups. It thoroughly examines both the experience of students and what context created a system that would make administrators want to blame the victim and side with perpetrators. Pressure from donating alumni, fraternities, athletics, and others to maintain the pristine image of the institution make the "logical" conclusion to sweep sexual assault cases under the rug. The result of this though is students on campuses across the country getting away with a serious crime. Also, the survivors of these assaults feel let down and overlooked by the institutions they've spent valuable time and money to go to, and perhaps have become a passionate member of the community. Often being under served makes these students not want to persist at their institutions simply because they are not the priority. Obviously they should be but this documentary highlights this ugly consequence of a deeper issue at higher ed institutions; that the student experience is hardly the priority for decision makers. It frustrates me seeing this confirm problems I had feared but I hoped weren't true.
This problem is deeply human, it comes from us and it can be solved by us, We can do better helping each other and we can focus on doing the right thing by putting our priorities in check. I see a lot of campuses striving to do better and making good progress. I think the stories of this film and the hard work students and staff have done leading up to now are helping us move in the right direction, but there is still much work to do in helping prevent these horrible acts from happening in the first place. This is raw, powerful, genuine, emotional, important film that I am glad I was able to watch.
You can watch The Hunting Ground right now on Netflix.