“Hunting Ground” raises awareness

Mandatory screening exposes controversial college cover-ups

Both+male+and+female+seniors+viewed+%E2%80%9CThe+Hunting+Ground%E2%80%9D+on+Feb.+8+%7C+CNN
Both male and female seniors viewed “The Hunting Ground” on Feb. 8 | CNN

Both male and female seniors viewed “The Hunting Ground” on Feb. 8 | CNN

Both male and female seniors viewed “The Hunting Ground” on Feb. 8 | CNN

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All senior adviseries watched the documentary “The Hunting Ground on Thursday, Feb. 8, during an extended advisery period.

Susan Paunan, senior girls’ adviser chair, explained that New Trier hosted a viewing of the documentary because “preparing students for a safe and successful transition to their post-high school lives is a priority in our adviser room work during second semester.”

Having both male and female seniors watch this powerful documentary created a common experience that launched discussions and activities.  “The viewing was intended to provide an entry point into conversations about a range of topics, including consent, bystander intervention, and personal safety,” said Paunan.

As a senior adviser, Steven Rish hoped that the showing of this movie would impact his students by “[giving] them a sense of how frequently this happens and how they can be a positive impact.”

Rish’s advisery combined with Jennifer Loring’s girls’ advisery to create a mixed-gender environment. “It brought an interesting dynamic to bring both groups into the conversation,” said Rish. Many students have expressed the importance of informing both male and female students about the reality of sexual assault and its consequences.

Most adviseries also conducted a variety of activities to provide statistics and information about sexual assault to students and to set the tone for the viewing. In addition, adviseries conducted activities following the viewing.

“We had a follow-up to hear some reactions from the seniors. We also went through some scenarios,” said Rish.

Students expressed that they feel conversations need to continue beyond this one day.

According to Paunan, senior adviser chairs hope that adviseries continue to have follow-up discussions about the topic. “All advisers are planning on doing follow-up activities with their groups and a number of resources were provided to advisers by the committee that organized the day,” said Paunan.

Seniors who were interested in the topic also had the opportunity to attend a discussion panel. The panel included New Trier staff as well as representatives from the Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault. Furthermore, on Apr. 3, seniors can attend a workshop led by New Trier alumni Hannah Merens and Easton Joyce as part of Senior Institute Day.

Many students expressed that they came to understand the gravity of the issue of sexual assault on college campuses through the documentary. “I did not know how serious and how big the issue was until watching the movie,” said senior Rachel Weix.

Senior Amy Boyle echoed, “I didn’t realize the extent to which sexual assault was covered up until after watching the documentary.”

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