Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Sexual Abuse Talk

Posted on February 29, 2016 in Uncategorized
By USM Free Press

Hannah Lyon

By Anora Morton

No college administration likes to have crime on their campus. Beyond the simple facts that crime is hurtful and bad to people, it is also detrimental to enrolment rates. So the horrible truth is that in some institutes of higher learning, when sexual assault and rape crimes are reported, the administration often ignores the report or blames the victim for what occurred. The Sundance nominated documentary The Hunting Ground, uncovers a nationwide pandemic of high rates of sexual assault on college campuses, but the low rate of justice on college campuses.

This past Thursday, the women and gender studies program at USM hosted a well-attended viewing of “The Hunting Ground”, which was written and directed by Kirby Dick. The documentary follows the legal struggles of two students at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as they hold their university accountable for ignoring their reports of rape with Title IX. Title IX is a federal education amendment that prohibits the discrimination of sex in federally funded higher education. The students in the documentary argue that their university administration is violating their Title IX rights by allowing their rapist to walk free.  “The Hunting Ground” juxtaposes the excitement of getting accepted into college, for both the parents and the students, with the nightmare that many students and parents across the U.S. are facing in the form of ignored sexual assault reports: One in five women will be sexually assaulted in their college careers, and one in sixteen men. Less than 8% of male college students commit 90% of serial sexual assaults. According to the documentary, university administrations that ignore and belittle rape and sexual assault reports are sacrificing the safety and well-being of their student to maintain that they have low crime rates, creating a perfect “hunting ground” for perpetrators who know they won’t be punished.. “The Hunting Ground” is available for direct streaming on itunes, and is a much watch for any college community member.

Assistant Director of Student Life and Diversity, and Coordinator for USM’s Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity, Sarah Holmes explained what this film and its content mean to USM. Sexual assault at USM, according to Holmes, is “widely unreported”, and that “The last three reporting years [of sexual assaults on campus], 2012, 2013, 2014, there have been, in total 23 incidents reported.” This number does not come close to the national average, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that sexual assault is not a problem at USM, more that lack of reporting is the problem. Holmes states, “We know that far more than that are happening.” During this semester alone, Holmes has worked on over 20 cases that cannot be federally reported by USM, only because the perpetrators were not USM students. Holmes says that “most of the cases that I’m working with have to do with dating and domestic violence, where the accused is not part of the USM community.”Overall, USM is very receptive to reports of this nature, and USM’s Annual Security Report reflects this, listing the exact steps to be taken if a student is sexually assaulted and exactly how the university will respond. This report goes above and beyond what many of the universities in “The Hunting Ground” offer, and is a step in the right direction towards stopping sexual assault on college campuses. For more information about the message of “The Hunting Ground,” go to


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