Movie Review: “The Hunting Ground” – Predators on Campus

Written by Samah Ali April 22, 2015

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University opens doors for prospective leaders of tomorrow, it also creates opportunities for sexual predators to target their victims and get away, untouched and unscathed. After years of blaming the victims and institutions ignoring their rape problems on campus “The Hunting Ground” made it a mission to expose the sexual assault problems on university campuses around the United States.

Kirby Dick explores the exposes the unindicted rape crimes that plague college campuses as he follows Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark’s journey of filing a violation of Title IX to University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. With the additional interviews from rape survivors attending forty-five acclaimed institutions and former professors and administration, “The Hunting Ground” exposes the financial liability the universities avoid by addressing their sexual assault issues, ultimately caring about their funds compared to their students’ well being.

 “Rape is a scary word– you don’t want to fall into a category or as a victim.”

Starting off with dream university acceptance letters, the atmosphere of entering a college for the next few years of discovery is established from the beginning. With a swift transition between happiness to sadness, Dick conducted the pacing mirroring the same structure universities use to pull their students in: attract them with the happiness of the experience then expose the truth and detrimental circumstances after being sucked in.

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Pino and Clark were the first sexual assault survivors introduced and they shared their stories and injustices when dealing with UNC’s administration. As the documentary moved along, the same experiences and stories were shared on multiple college campuses across the campus, proving their situation was something that scarred several students.

“The Hunting Ground” expanded on the two kinds of predators that often get away: fraternities and athletes. On campus interviews with everyday students and researchers both explained the reluctance to press charges against both parties. US colleges have a strong financial bond with both fraternities and athletes –fraternities provide major donations from their alumni and athletes boost the sponsorships and attention given to the college. The women who shared their tribulations when filing against the students affiliated with both programs were always denied, prolonged or their predators were expelled “after graduation”.

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Former administrators and professors also shared the corrupt system within the institutions. If one were to protect or vouch for a student’s case, they were often fired. Victims and professionals agreed with the brands colleges protect rather then ensuring safety on (often) repeating predators.

“It is in the interest of the college to suppress that no rape has happened.”

Even though “The Hunting Ground” did a thorough job exposing the selfish behavior from universities, the experiences that were shared were very heternormative and didn’t explore beyond other sexualities. It also primarily focused on date rape and nightlife experiences rather than identifying sexual assault within intimate relationships.

The documentary danced on the preachy side towards the end. It emphasized student initiatives, how to fight against one’s institutions, and reminders of not blaming the victim. “The Hunting Ground” was moving enough to skip their explicit ending, but Dick went with it at the end.

“… It’s really the people you know that will take advantage of you.”

Regardless of the documentary’s overtly testimonial ending, “The Hunting Ground” was well directed and executed as it emphasized the truth behind on-campus sexual assault cases. Worth the watch and worth the share as it promotes a movement that stops victim blaming and promotes campus safety.

Rating: 8.5/10

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About Samah Ali

Samah Ali

With a deep admiration for film, television, and music, Samah spends most of her free time expressing and sharing her love for the arts. Studying Creative Writing at Western University, she enjoys writing about film & music and shapes her passions with the latest movie or album available.

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