Last night on May 20th 2015, the Oakland/Macomb chapter of NOW in association with other organizations hosted a film screen of the Hunting Ground detailing the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. The film showed an honest portrayal of the increasing occurrence and detrimental effects of sexual assault. The film focused on the victims, the victim’s families, and the valiant efforts of the young women trying to bring awareness and trying to end this horrific, but all too common crime.
There were many eye opening moments in the film, but the most disturbing was the amount of protection awarded to the accused. For any other crime the victim is always seen as the most vulnerable, who needs the most protection, but sadly in cases of sexual assault and rape, the accused is rewarded with endless support from powerful institutions. This has been an incredibly relevant issue within recent years because of the importance that sports occupy in university culture. Universities have a lot at stake if one of their star players is accused of rape, so they use all of their resources to cover up the crime. Alumni, donors, and sponsors pressure institutions like this and if the universities do not live up to their expectations, funding is pulled. This is a clear example of how money takes precedence over a human, a woman.
The most important idea to take away from the Hunting Ground is that not enough is being done to protect students on campuses, and especially not enough is being done to help victims. Recently, a Columbia student, Emma Sulkowicz, has been actively fighting Columbia’s decision to allow her rapist to remain on campus. In protest, for the past year she has been carrying the twin size mattress she was raped on, and even carried it to graduation. Columbia’s President Lee C. Bollinger refused to shake her hand when she walked to get her diploma. What does it say about rape culture when America’s most prestigious universities fail to act in the best interest of their students? What is clear is that this issue will not be easily resolved unless the people who can force change start taking this more seriously.
Written by: Enxhi Liti, Intern- NOW Oakland/Macomb Chapter