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ARTS: “The Hunting Ground”

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We first heard about “The Hunting Ground” from friends who saw the film at Sundance. That some of them had daughters of college age made their impassioned, sometimes teary “you’ve got to see this movie” that much more understandable.

With stoic, sometimes unbelievable candor, a string of women and young men recount their often violent experiences at the hands of fellow students at some of the nation’s most prestigious college campuses – including some right here at home.

Their stories, buttressed by others we hear now on an almost regular basis from students attending colleges both large and small, will undoubtedly be heard on those very campuses in the coming months.

Guaranteed to make parents of college-bound kids cringe and, hopefully, the kids themselves conduct an inner dialogue about what can – and has – happened on a regular basis at campuses across the nation, this film packs a wallop.

Debuting with eerily prescient timing as the White House moves to establish guidelines for the investigation and handling of on-campus sexual assaults, “The Hunting Ground” is sure to provoke further dialogue, more sleepless nights for parents, and backlash from college campuses under federal scrutiny for possible Title IX violations – which prohibits gender discrimination at schools funded with government money.

Despite claims of fact-bending and overly zealous dramatic interpretations, writer-director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering manage to get this monster of a 103-minute-long documentary on its feet and demanding attention, the stories of the parade of young people it features undeniable.

The Hunting Ground” opens today in theaters across the country.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Confirms my theory that it’s best to never leave the safety of your home. If it can’t be accomplished on-line, forget it.

  2. Huge issue with so many nuances and ramifications for both accuser and accused. We’ve had “the talk” and tried to equip our kids as best we can but aside from puting cameras and tracking devices on them I’m not sure what we can do as parents. Once they leave us life begins for them and the decisions they make are theirs to make. But it is so hard to let them go.

  3. Next year, I’ll have two kids in undergrad and the whole “sexual assault on campus” thing terrifies me….but mostly with respect to my son.

    First of all, the Social Justice Warriors who flog this issue use expansive and deceptively defined terms to distort statistics and destroy their credibility. Sorry, but 20% of undergrad girls are not raped at college. In these studies, violent stranger rape gets the same weight as attempted contact of a sexual nature (drunken dorm dude leans in for a kiss and girl recoils before contact, for example).

    The other scary part (for boys) is that the emerging “best practices” make conduct that no cop or DA (let alone jury) would find criminal to be potentially life-destroying, depending solely on the ex-post subjective feelings of the girl. Suppose you have a video/audio tape of an encounter and have a 100% honest and candid male participant answer all your questions. The current reality is that neither campus officials nor the boy may be able to determine whether campus rules were broken until the woman chimes in– whether that be minutes, hours, days or weeks after the fact.

  4. From what we understand the accepted standard of behavior has changed quite a lot since my college days. That relaxed standard and the new found freedom that comes with a freshman year away from home and parents can be both uplifting and terrifying for kids unprepared for the experience. And I agree that special care must be taken when investigating these cases as fabricated stories of assault have ruined college careers and sometimes lives.

  5. A few years to go before we have to send the kids away and I don’t look forward to the day. You only pray that you are reaching them and that they understand what is ahead of them – both good and bad.

  6. High school was hard enough with our kids exposed to so much more than we ever had to deal with. All we can do is keep the lines of communication open and trust them to do their best.

  7. Good that we’re taking a good hard and hopefully cool look at this issue. Recent events have shown that as real as some of these attacks are (imo usually fueled by alcohol or drug use) others have proven to be complete fabrications duping everyone from local prosecutors to national media and ruining lives and institutions in the process. On the other hand we have seen institutions do their best to blunt investigations and legitimate questions about the activities of their sports programs, fraternities and even fundraising arms. Independent and objective investigations by OUTSIDE agencies with no connection to any of the parties being investigated need to be the norm. There’s too much at stake.

  8. Independent investigations. The process of schools investigating these incidents themselves is ludicrous. Local police and prosecutors are also sometimes closely tied to the schools. Outside agencies should be called on to do the fact finding and there should be no release of a defendants name until they are formally charged. Some men of college age are animals, especially when altered by drugs or alcohol. Some college age women make things up – for lots of different reasons. A better investigative process is needed.

  9. @Casey: Thank you for pointing out the obvious and fair policy that cops should not release, and the media should not publish, the names of alleged victim or alleged perp until the DA files charges. If a school releases names of persons that they have (after some kind of due process) chosen to punish under their rules they should, simultaneous with such release, explain that “The conduct punished by our university has been reviewed by local police and DA who have determined that the facts do not warrant criminal prosecution” (or the like).

    If my daughter were ever raped, I would INSIST that the police/DA handle the case and NOT the school. Jail time (and, IMHO, capital punishment) is the appropriate punishment for violent stranger rape (such as depicted in the Rolling Stone article).

    Should we pretend that First Degree Murder and dorm scuffles are the same thing and let the Dean of Students handle both? Crazy.

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