“Hunting Ground” opens up discussions on assault

In late January, senior adviseries watched “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary focusing on the sexual assault epidemic within college campuses. After watching the film many male students were shocked at the scope of sexual assault on campuses, while many female students were sadly unsurprised by the film.
“The Hunting Ground,” a film created in 2015, details disturbing statistics and chronicles several stories of assault swept under the rug by college administrations. Through a multitude of national and individual school studies, the video found that a shocking 1 in 5 women will be assaulted in their time at college.
After watching the film, senior Jack Altman was left with a new understanding of the dangers that accompany college life.
“[Sexual assault] was an issue I knew [of] prior to watching it, but I didn’t really know the scope or severity of it. I realized [going to college] could actually be a scary experience,” said Altman.
Senior Roland Kim also found many of the statistics in the video astounding, especially most the number of reported assaults that go unpenalized.
“Before the video I was not aware of the number of women who face sexual assault, especially all the women who are then ignored,” Kim reflected.
To senior adviser Andrew Milne, his advisees did not seem shocked that the issue was present, but more saddened by the reality of the film.
“They seemed disappointed more than anything else,” Milne clarified.
Senior Lauren Wittenmyer was similarly saddened by the realities shown, but she was not astonished by them.
“I already knew rape culture was a major problem on college campuses and the video didn’t really teach me anything new about it. However, I thought the video highlighted a very important aspect of college life that a lot of people choose to ignore,” said Wittenmyer.
Similarly, Alana Goldstein, was not only unsurprised by the numbers presented in the film, but even felt that the recorded numbers may be lower than the truth.
“I wish I could say that sexual assault at college and university isn’t something I need to be wary of. Even the statistics that were shown are way lower than the actual sexual assault instances that probably happen since so much goes unreported,” said Goldstein.
Despite already being aware of the problem at hand, Goldstein still felt that the film was well done and something seniors should continue to watch.
“I think that the video did a good job at demonstrating the extent of the problem sexual assault is across colleges and universities around the United States,” she said. “It really showed that the epidemic isn’t just at one school and that there is a consistent culture that school administrations have let run rampant.”
While the video presented the problem well, it did not touch on the solutions, leaving that as one of the key questions for adviseries to discuss.
Math teacher Katherine Linsenmeier worked to help advisees have conversations that focused on solutions to the problem.
“I hope that my advisees didn’t come away from the video and discussion with a sense of hopelessness and fear about college. I know that we tried to supplement the documentary with information about how to make safer choices for yourself, and how to stand up for others as bystanders,” said Linsenmeier.
Similarly, Milne’s advisory spent time discussing ways to address the problem.
“The boys were affected by the gravity of the movie. They were disappointed by what they saw and wanted to know how society hopes to make things better,” said Milne.
There was also a group discussion among advisers about areas of potential improvement for future years.
Watching the video was certainly a step in the right direction, and students hope the school will continue to address these issues.
“I think we need to do this not just about the college and university level, but also about our time here at New Trier. Sexual assaults are a huge problem at the high school level, too. It would benefit everybody to start addressing this problem earlier on,” said Goldstein.