The Hunting Ground

The Hunting Ground is a new documentary currently showing in theaters across the nation. We were lucky enough to host a screening of it tonight (April 16th) thanks to the Women’s Outreach Center and the Norman Women’s Resource Center. The documentary was featured in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, and its director and producer are both Academy Award nominees and Emmy Award winners.

The film is about sexual assault on college campuses in the United States. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Berkley, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UVA, Dartmouth, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Florida State, the University of Tulsa, and more were all touched on in the documentary. In particular, it followed the journey of two students at UNC. Both were victims of rape. Both were ignored by the college administration. Neither were satisfied.

The film features so many stories from survivors across the nation. From a Harvard law student drugged and assaulted by a close friend, to a freshman at UNC dragged into a bathroom during the middle of a crowded party, both men and women were represented as victims in this film. The wide variety yet astonishing similarities between the stories confirm a major theme in the documentary: this could happen to you.

Institutions have a financial incentive to cover up these crimes in order to preserve their reputations. They aim to artificially minimize their crime rates, and in doing so they shamelessly abuse victims. In the film, the survivors repeatedly reported having been blamed for their rapes. One was asked what she was wearing. Another was asked if she had been drinking. A male victim was asked why he didn’t fight back. One of the featured women, after sharing her rape with an administrator, was immediately told, “Rape is like a football game. Looking back, what would you have done differently?” There was not a single story in the documentary in which the institution offered its entire support to the victim. No university, from Harvard to Tulsa, was willing to do whatever it took to give these survivors the justice they deserve.

As for the perpetrators, the film provided a variety of statistics and examples of punishments. Some were expelled (after graduation, of course) and others were fined an entire $75. Expulsions related to issues of academic integrity were astronomical compared to expulsions for sexual assault. All of the schools mentioned above had approximately three or less expulsions in a year compared with over one hundred sexual assault claims. One in four college women are raped. It is obvious that institutions simply do not take these situations seriously, despite their adamant claims, particularly in the recruitment process, that they will make for their students a loving, supportive home. They put up as many obstacles as they can to make sure these claims are as weak and as slow as possible.

You can watch the documentary and find screenings at http://www.thehuntinggroundfilm.com. I highly recommend it. Everyone needs to see this film, whether you’re a student, a parent, or a faculty member.

Can you imagine the amount of courage it takes to come forward as a rape victim, to have to re-live that experience each time you tell your story? And then to be accused of lying or to be blamed for the crime?– it’s absolutely appalling. 2%-8% of rape claims are false, so why does our society and our institutions treat each claim as if it’s probably false? Why do people think claiming the most intimate of crimes is something done on a whim or for attention? By not expelling or imprisoning rapists, institutions are saying to the victims, “Your body is not worth it.” Letting athletes play until summertime is equivalent to: “Well, he’s really monetarily important to our school, even if he did rape you.” How could an institution think charging a perpetrator $75 is justice?

In addition to an array of relevant and shocking statistics, this documentary illuminates some extremely valid questions which we should all be asking our universities. Please watch the film! It will not be a waste.

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Discussion Recap: 3/29/15

By Amanda Ahadizadeh 

This week we had a guest speaker, Rance Weryackwe, who was kind enough to attend our meeting and read his recently published article, “Savages, Settlers, and Slaves.” The primary focus of Rance’s article is our university’s mascot: the Sooner.

At football games, gymnastics meets, softball tournaments, and basically every single other kind of campus activity, we celebrate ourselves by using the word “sooner.” We don’t think of the history of the word when we scream it at the tops of our lungs; we don’t recognize the weight it carries as we wear it proudly on our sweatshirts. We hear “Sooner” and we think of our university, our sports teams, and our collegiate identity. Native American students think of the land run. They think of how land that rightfully belonged to the native tribes was stolen, even against state law, and never returned. Imagine being reminded of such a painful history every time you saw the word “sooner” on the University of Oklahoma’s campus. I mean, how many times a day do we hear “Boomer” followed by “Sooner”? How many people on campus wear their (probably free) t-shirts, proudly exhibiting the word like a badge of pride?

Rance’s article called into question our university’s choice of mascot and pointed out the hypocrisy of it particularly in light of the SAE scandal. In the moment when racial discrimination was finally gaining attention, our campus glossed over this racially charged phenomenon: “You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves ‘Sooners.'”

Of course we all love President Boren, and it makes sense for him to use this word in this context. But why have we allowed this phenomenon to continue? Why have we not yet asked to change the names of our sports teams? Why do we continually perpetuate this racially biased system? Our organization changed our name not because we’re A+ human beings, but because we realized our own ignorance in using that word to represent ourselves. We realized the irony. How can a university attempt to ameliorate itself, particularly in regards to institutional racism, when its very identity is intrinsically supremacist?

Please, read Rance’s article! It’s short, sweet, and to the point. Let us know what you think!

http://nativemaxmagazine.com/savages-settlers-and-slaves-red-white-and-black-symbolism-of-oklahoma-sooners-football-and-the-university-of-oklahoma/