By Glenne Fucci, Regular ContributorOctober 23, 2015
image via youtube.com
The realest movie of the year, may also be the hardest to watch. The Hunting Ground is a haunting and revealing look into what’s going on within our college campuses and how the college education system is leaving sexual assault survivors behind. In many ways you want to turn away, pretend it’s all a lie, but the accounts are real.
Two parts of the film really stuck with me. The first is arguably the happiest montage in movie history. The film opens with homemade videos of young girls in the moments when they discover they were accepted into college. The cheers are ear-piercing, the joy of the parents is unbelievably touching, and, in just a few short seconds, you watch a year’s worth of hopes and dreams coming true via one short email. To put it bluntly; it gives you all the feels. If you are in college (or have graduated), I’m sure you remember the moment when you learned where you would be spending the next few years of your life. For me, it was one of the most memorable five minutes of my life. If you’re still in high school, I envy the day that you find out you were accepted - I like to think it will be one of the most joyous moments of your life.
That being said, the purpose of the clips is to demonstrate the contrast between celebratory families and young women telling the tales of how their universities failed them; and failed them, they have.
The filmmakers do an incredible job of showing survivors of all types: male and female, undergraduate and graduate students, survivors who never met their attacker and survivors who considered their attacker a close friend. But in a story that can seem so depressing, there is a bright light. Two young women, both of whom survived sexual assaults on their college campuses, have undertaken the seemingly impossible challenge of getting schools to make some serious changes. The film follows them as they travel around the country meeting with legislators, college administrators, and student groups dedicated to reforming sexual assault handling by campus officials. However, arguably the most important aspect of their adventure is the support system they provide for other survivors of sexual assault. They make themselves available via skype and phone and are constantly ready to speak with young people around the nation who find themselves in unbearable situations.
These young people have mobilized and unified and are leading the charge to making long-term changes.
They are willing to relive their own attacks and trauma, so they can help others cope with not only being sexually assaulted, but also being denied the justice they so deserve. They refuse to quiet down, be polite, or apologize for calling out the people who have repeatedly turned their backs to this massive issues. They have sparked a movement, one that has taken hold on college campuses, big and small. Whether it’s students carrying a dorm mattress across campus, or a young woman filing a Title IX suit against her university, or founding student support groups that strive to provide a safe place for other survivors. It’s truly amazing what changes can take place when a few young women come together and use their voices to ignite people nationwide.
There is an epidemic happening on our colleges campus, and we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.
These young women are changing policies so the next generation of young people don’t need a documentary to expose the failures of their institutions. Despite their struggles, they inspire us to go out there and make a difference in our communities. So to all those that are leading the charge, those that are promoting awareness and bringing hope to survivors, THANK YOU!
Have you seen The Hunting Ground? What did you think? How can we provide more support and promote more awareness to sexual assault on college campuses?
Glenne is a third year law student hailing from NYC, University of Michigan ‘13 grad and Beyonce enthusiast. Currently residing in Korea, her interests include duathlons/triathlons, traveling near and far, documentary films, consuming sugary cereal, watching mid-2000s teen dramas and singing her heart out at Betty Who concerts. You can watch her attempt to navigate Asia and beyond on Instagram @glennefucci.
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