‘Hunted’ on campus

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Nisha Gandhi

Students and administrators packed into the Mount Carmel Auditorium on Oct. 21 to view the 2015 documentary “The Hunting Ground,” an intense film about the rape culture on college campuses across the country.

This has been a growing epidemic throughout the past 30 years. According to the film, more and more students are experiencing sexual assault on campus and many universities have not changed or enforced their policies on how to handle the issue.

Senior Carly Hviding, political science major and student body vice president, was very impressed with the turnout at the event.

“I thought it was awesome,” she said. “I know a lot of classes came [and] a lot of professors made their classes go. They did a really good job promoting [the documentary], so I thought it was really good having so many people there because it’s a really important issue to be informed about.”

Penny Leisring, professor of psychology, agreed with Hviding.

“The amount of diversity that we saw at the showing was great,” Leisring said. “Obviously there were a lot of students, but there were also other professors, people from Residential Life, the provost… Many people don’t realize how important it is to have this kind of presence at something like this.”

Viewing “The Hunting Ground” impacted many students, including Ann Abadeer, a junior in the physician assistant program and residential assistant. She spoke about the reluctance of universities to report sexual assaults, since high crime rates could harm enrollment numbers.

“It was very powerful and shocking,” Abadeer said. “I couldn’t believe how many universities there are [that] still stand for what’s financially convenient or easier/better as opposed to what’s morally right.”

Kerry Sewell, a freshman nursing student, also described the documentary as “powerful.”

“I thought it was very surprising… and sent a really good message,” she said. “It made me alarmed that that happens a lot of places and not a lot is being done about it… it occurs a lot more than we think it does.”

Cassie Hardy, a freshman history major, said the consequences for both the victims and perpetrators of sexual assault surprised her the most. Many would assume a victim would not be blamed, but this is not always the case.

“Like with the Jameis Winston thing, people called [the victim] a liar,” Hardy said.

Winston was a Florida State University student and quarterback accused of raping two women, but was never found guilty. He currently plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The woman who accused him of rape dropped out of school, and the film shows FSU football fans happy about her decision.

“The Hunting Ground” didn’t just change people’s views on the rape culture on colleges, it also changed the way people perceive the schools that were mentioned, such as the University of Notre Dame.

“I grew up with a Notre Dame family and I stepped onto that campus so many times, and I had no idea that this was such a big thing there,” Maria Capetta, a freshman history major, said. “It’s made it impossible for me to wear any Notre Dame attire because I’m so disgusted by it.”

Perhaps the biggest impact “The Hunting Ground” had on Quinnipiac students and faculty members is the reassurance that QU is working to make sure this kind of culture is not prevalent on our campus.

Dr. Hillary Haldane, professor of anthropology, was the catalyst for the documentary showing at Quinnipiac.

“If I was a prospective student knowing that sexual violence is a huge problem in our culture and I was looking at a university that wasn’t acknowledging that it was a problem, I would be suspicious,” Haldane said. “I look at us and we’re showing this film, we’re holding a Socrates Cafe where we will discuss rape culture, we offer classes that engage with this question, we have a great Title IX team… I would look at that as all real positive things that our University makes publicly known.”

The Socrates Cafe, called Does the U.S. Have a Rape Culture?, will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the piazza. Hosts will encourage open discussion of the topic between professors and students. “The Hunting Ground” goes hand in hand with this event.

“I think that’s a really great message to send to students,” Haldane said. “You can come here and we can work for change collectively.”