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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The Guide to Help You Fight Racism on College Campuses

By Lester Asamoah

In the wake of the University of Oklahoma incident, numbers of students, faculty, and staff are asking the inevitable question: what are their individual roles in helping their campus become an inclusive community? Let’s go into detail about things that can be done every day by students, faculty, and staff to mitigate the marginalization of people of color.

Defining Racism

What happened with SAE was an example of overt racism. Clearly, no rational person in America can deny the racism of that video. However, that video is a result of covert racism, or racism that you don’t see every day. What does this look like? It is institutional. At the University of Oklahoma (OU) there are no people of color [POC] in high administrative offices and in 2013-2014 there were only 1,006 black students in a population of 20,000 undergrads. It is also microaggressive. What is microaggression? It’s judging black people on what they wear. It’s asking black students to be the spokesperson of their entire race in history class. It’s staring at groups of black people in your cafeteria or the Student Union. It’s making rude comments or accosting white women who are with black men, or black men who are with white women. Or black women with white men. Or anyone of any color, gender, or race with anyone else they love. A lot goes into this, and it is scientifically proven. I suggest reading a scientific study or reputable publication for more into this. Institutions are still pretty marginalizing. And nobody is overtly racist anymore, but people may not know they are acting covertly racist.

Are your eyes and ears working?

People of color have expressed, through many avenues, how their experience is on their college campuses. OU Unheard movement, among many, many other groups have been expressing their experiences. LISTEN. Everything in this post is not new. At Washington State University, a black woman was kicked out of a fraternity party and called a “n—-r bitch.” At UCLA and Michigan (among other major and minor institutions), they faced issues with microaggressions mounting and people getting fed up. This isn’t new. This is far from new. The next time you see a person of color tweet, post to facebook, or say something in class about race, LISTEN, READ, THINK.

Far too often on social media and in classrooms, white people try to (I want to borrow from the recent feminist term “mansplain” or when a man puts his two cents where it isn’t necessary – something that should also stop) “whitesplain” something because they haven’t felt the same experience. And it whittles people of color down over time they’re being told that their experiences aren’t as valid. People of color on campus have every reason under the sun to not fully trust all white people, between the awful things said after Ferguson and the things SAE said. Keep that in mind. People of color have every right to be wary of white people. So LISTEN. And stop invalidating their experiences.

Think about your n-words

As an American (or at least living in America), you have the right to say what you want. Quite frankly, you can be racist if you want. But, I assume you’re not racist if you’re reading this. The big argument with the n-word is that “Well if rappers say the n-word, I can say it too!!!!!!!!!!!” Stop. First, “nigga” is a reappropriated term. It was transformed into a term of endearment among black people. Let’s repeat those last three words, AMONG BLACK PEOPLE. With that being said, I have absolutely zero confidence that people will stop saying the n-word. But at the very least, contemplate the implications of that word. Because one of the biggest issues on college campuses is how white people use the n-word among each other as if it’s in style. And they listen to loud rap, and love black comedians, but when the social justice hits the fan, people really like being white. At the very least, do the research behind the history of that word and how it got to be what it is today before you keep using it.

Oh, and if you call your black friend “nigga,” know that it is always awkward no matter what they say. We will never admit face-to-face the awkwardness that pierces our souls. But, at the bare minimum, think about why you’re saying the n-word if you say it amongst your friends and you’re not black. There are many other words of endearment like “bro, cus, homie, friend, pal, comrade, dude, bruh (not to be confused with bro), dog, dawg (not to be confused with dog), and, but not limited to, fam.” Also, always remember if you call your black friends “nigga,” they will feel awkward and probably not tell you.

Taking practical steps

If you’ve made it this far (or you skipped to this part), you want to know “what can I do?” Okay. Well, if you haven’t already, you should read and understand everything above because I explain various issues. But, actually do these things:

— Understand that you may not be overtly racist, but your words and actions can still be harmful over long periods of time. And understand that universities, fraternities, and the justice system were not made for black people. I repeat, the creation of universities, fraternities, and the justice system, historically, was not meant for the black person. Things are changing, but there are still issues. So be patient with people that are frustrated.

— Listen, don’t interrupt or argue, or say “I’m not racist because,” or say “my black friend….” Actually, go ahead and delete those phrases from your repertoire NOW. Listen first. Ask questions. Understand. Be slow to judge. Don’t “whitesplain.”

— Think about the use, or your friends’ use of the n-word. And know that if you think it’s cool to call your black friend the n-word, she or he will think it’s awkward, every single time.

— Remember black people are people too (shocking, right?). Not just your campus’s athletes, your favorite slam poets, or the girl that sits in your class. Say hi to black people on campus. Invite us to things. Ask us about our lives and what our hobbies are. Sit with us. If we are athletes, don’t just talk to us about our sport. Ask us about our lives.

— Don’t say “not all frats, or not all students”–that’s obvious. In fact, people saying that raises the question if it really is all fraternities or all students (because if you have to keep saying something isn’t something, well…).  And it’s unhelpful. Focus on what you’re going to do to PROVE, REPEAT PROVE–YOU KNOW, THROUGH ACTION–that your frat or school is different. Because, as I said before, people of color have a right to be at least a little wary. Remember that.

— Don’t blanket any social movements. Marching with your black friends is fun, but understand systemic and cultural change is long and slow. And it starts with me and you. No, this is not about just Greek Life, how awesome your campus is, or anything positive when it comes to social movements. What happened at the University of Oklahoma and what continues to happen across campuses nationwide are extremely negative and we should not cover those negativities up with positives. That is actually doing the opposite of what people who care about change want.

Remember, civil rights marches used to be violent. People had to take BEATINGS. Civil rights were violent. We, as this generation of students, have the privilege of not expecting to be attacked, so don’t make rallies and marches your self-masturbatory events you put on Instagram. Also, don’t make your black friends or kids in African countries that either. Stop it.

— Don’t appropriate any movements. Don’t act like your friends or organization are the best shining example of diversity in the world. Because clearly people of color on your campus can prove why that’s not true. Just sit back and understand the movements. Don’t brag. Improve, and show that you are.

— Don’t take attacks against “white America” personally. If someone says they have an issue with white people, chances are they have a very specific one that has no bearing on all of white society. And if you listen long enough, they’ll tell you what it is. Keep in mind that America was built on the backs of slaves. And, well, Selma happened only 50 years ago. Our parents were alive when black people were being beaten by police. Keep that in mind. And keep in mind that every black person in America is somehow affected by institutions and systems that are a legacy of deeply violent and exclusionary history.

Finally, keep in mind that these guidelines can loosely be applied to a number of things like sexism, transphobia, Islamphobia, ablism, etc. We learn in elementary school to treat others how we want to be treated. Somehow that important lesson is lost, but let’s get it back America.

Online resources

While we do want our blog to be helpful and resourceful, we encourage that you primarily get your news and information from other sources.  The following is a list of sources that our members find helpful.

These are just a few of the resources available.  If you noticed we left out something you find important, share it with us and we will update this post!

Definitions

As we navigate through this blog, the definitions of these several words will be pertinent to the context of the matters we analyze and discuss.

  • Oppression: prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control
  • Genocide: the deliberate killing of people who belong to a particular racial, political, or cultural group
  • Privilege: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people
  • Racism: a belief that one race is superior to the other or the practice of treating a person or group of people differently on the basis of their race – exercised through a basis of power. Racism often presents itself through microaggressions.  Racism manifests through institutions, hidden and apparent, (political systems, education, housing) and does not appear only in microinteractions.
  • Microaggression: brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color. (Coined by Dr. Chester Pierce)
  • Sexism: “both discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination.” – source
  • Patriarchy: a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
  • Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men
  • Intersectionality: a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another – source
  • Consent: source 1source 2
    • Consent to sexual activity can be communicated in a variety of ways, but one should presume that consent has not been given in the absence of clear, positive agreement
    • Consent must be clear and unambiguous for each participant at every stage of a sexual encounter. The absence of “no” should not be understood to mean there is consent.
    • A prior relationship does not indicate consent to future activity.
    • Consent can only be given if participants are of age, which varies from state to state.
    • A person who is asleep or mentally or physically incapacitated, either through the effect of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason, is not capable of giving valid consent.
  • Rape: unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim
  • Cultural appropriation: Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. It’s most likely to be harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects. – source
  • Male Privilege: a term for social, economic, and political advantages or rights that are made available to men solely on the basis of their sex. A man’s access to these benefits may also depend on other characteristics such as race, sexual orientation and social class.  Incomplete lists of these privileges can be found here and here.
  • White Privilege: a transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society. White skin privilege serves several functions. First, it provides white people with “perks” that we do not earn and that people of color do not enjoy. Second, it creates real advantages for us. White people are immune to a lot of challenges. Finally, white privilege shapes the world in which we live — the way that we navigate and interact with one another and with the world.  Incomplete lists of these privileges can be found here and here.
  • Transgender: denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender
  • Agender: described as genderless, non-gender, gender neutral, or neutrois. Agender is an identity under the nonbinary and transgender umbrellas. Agender individuals have a neutral gender identity and/or gender expression or none at all – source
  • Genderfluid: Genderfluid individuals have multiple gender identities at different times or in different situations. A genderfluid individual’s gender identity could be multiple genders at once, and then switch to none at all, or move between single gender identities – source
  • Genderqueer: an umbrella term covering non-normative gender identity and gender expression. The label may also be used by individuals wishing to identify as holding queer or non-normative gender without being any more specific about the nature of their gender – source
  • Intersex: Intersex people have some aspect of their sex that is inconsistent with conventional ideas of male and female sex, in their primary or secondary sexual characteristics, hormones, or chromosomes.  An intersex person may have any gender identity. They may agree with their assigned gender (cisgender), or they may think of themselves as transgender, or it may be more complicated. They may or may not think of themselves as being part of the LGBTIQAP spectrum – source
  • Police State: a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures – source
  • Racial Profiling: refers to the targeting of particular individuals by law enforcement authorities based not on their behavior, but rather their personal characteristics. It is generally used to encompass more than simply an individual’s race. As used in this report, it encompasses race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion—and means the impermissible use by law enforcement authorities of these personal characteristics, to any degree, in determining which individuals to stop, detain, question, or subject to other law enforcement activities – source

We will update this incomplete list as time goes on.