‘The Hunting Ground’ sheds light on campus rape epidemic

I cringe every time I hear the word “rape.” In my culture as a college student in my 20s, I have been discouraged from talking about or even referring to rape. I have always thought rape is something to be embarrassed about. But as of Tuesday, Sept. 29, my entire view of rape has been changed.

Take a look around you. Pick five random women in the same room as yourself. One of these women is expected to be a victim of sexual assault during her collegiate years, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. One in 16 men is sexually assaulted. Rape is a national epidemic on college campuses.

I attended a free screening of “The Hunting Ground,” a film full of raw experiences of sexual assaults and abuse that have been reported on several college campuses. It was shown Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in Derryberry Hall Auditorium.

The documentary focused on two women from the University of North Carolina, Andrea Pio and Annie Clark. Both of the women were raped on campus, each by a student who attended the university. When they opened up to faculty members to receive help and guidance after their rapes, they were advised to not file a report and were discouraged from continuing their search of justice for their offenders.

During this film, female and male victims stated: “My rape was bad, but the way I was treated (by faculty) was worse.”

The statistics were overwhelming: more than 16 percent of college women are sexually assaulted; 88 percent of these assaults go unreported. Only 2 to 8 percent of reported cases of sexual assault are proven false — meaning 92 percent of reports are found to be completely true.

The Friday following the screening, I met with Marlene Hall, our school’s Compliance Coordinator for the Clery Act and Title IX, to discuss questions I had after watching the film.

Within the past year, Tennessee Tech has further advanced its quality of resources for crime prevention, intervention and victim assistance, according to the 2015 Annual Security Report, which is easily retrievable online. Our university is the first in our region to hire a full-time Clery compliance coordinator.

I personally believe that with the new addition of Hall, who has worked with several campuses including Syracuse in New York, a university in Charleston, North Carolina, and Vanderbilt, our campus has become even safer. In her small office in Foundation Hall, she made me feel like a person, not just another student of the 11,000 who attend our university. Hall listened to my concerns regarding sexual misconduct offenders, and she opened up to me with her experiences at the universities and police departments she has worked with. I highly recommend anyone with any concerns regarding Tennessee Tech’s safety to get in touch with Hall.

“The Hunting Ground” made me think more realistically about rape, something I have been discouraged of believing is an actual problem universities have in our nation. If you are reading this article and ever get the chance to watch the documentary, take it. As a top critic of Rotten Tomatoes states, the stories are horrifying but essential to hear.