‘The Hunting Ground’ addresses negligence toward sexual assault at universities

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    TCU Student Affairs hosted a free screening and panel discussion of “The Hunting Ground” Wednesday evening in the Brown-Lupton University Union ballroom.

    The documentary focuses on sexual assault at college campuses across the United States and universities’ failure to take action against those committing the crimes. 

    The documentary was directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering. They also worked together on the Academy Award nominated and Emmy Award winning documentary “The Invisible War,” regarding sexual assault in the military.

    The screening and the discussion panel aimed to educate TCU students and faculty on university sexual assault.

    “I really felt like the movie opened my eyes to the epidemic that is occurring right in front of us as college students,” said Kathryn Murray, a sophomore fashion merchandising major who attended the event.

    “It’s pretty alarming learning these statistics and about college authority figures pressuring students to keep quiet about sexual assaults in order to protect the reputation of the school.”

    After the movie, the screening opened up to a discussion panel with TCU faculty who are knowledgeable on the topic of sexual assault at TCU.

    The panel was comprised of Leah Carnahan, assistant dean of campus life and director of the TCU Victim Advocate Program; Glory Robinson, associate dean of Campus Life and chief discipline officer; Dr. Nada Elias-Lambert, assistant professor for the Department of Social Work; and J.C. Williams, assistant chief of police in the TCU Police Department. 

    Audience members asked the panel questions regarding TCU sexual assault statistics, the campus sexual crimes reporting process, disciplinary action taken against those accused of sexual assault and crime alerts sent to students via email.

    The members said that from 2004 to 2014, there have been 44 sexual assault accusations at TCU, with five expulsions of those accused.

    “Here at TCU, we are looking at about 12 percent of the cases where those being accused were expelled,” Carnahan said.

    The panel also discussed the ability for TCU students, faculty and staff to become involved in preventing sexual assault.

    TCU Student Affairs is working to train staff and students on the “bystander intervention” advocacy program that provides aid to victims of sexual assault at the university.

    “As far as faculty are concerned with the victim advocacy program, faculty and staff members are really trying to spread the word on the opportunity for faculty to go through training and be more informed about the resources and rights of that process,” Lambert said. “We are really looking to just be a resource for students.”

    Williams said in the last year, about 640 people at TCU took part in the advocacy program to learn more about the reporting requirements of sexual assault.

    The website of “The Hunting Ground” also urges students take the pledge against sexual assault on college campuses by supporting the campaign and viewing of the documentary.

    The site also provides information to contact members of congress to encourage support of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. The bill aims to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses through clarity and cooperation between university institutions and law enforcement.

    “The Hunting Ground” is currently playing in select theaters across the United States. A full list of screenings is available on the documentary site.