Emotional Health · News

Dr. Ford Reports: ‘The Hunting Ground’ — Rape on College Campuses

The film makes the point that most of these incidents go unreported, and those that are reported get little or no justice. Often the victim is put through a terrible ordeal of interrogation and shaming, even when her interviewer is a woman. The filmmaker’s point is that the universities want to keep this issue quiet because it makes the university environment seem unsafe for women. They don’t want their school to get the reputation for being dangerous, and it’s in their best interest to cover it up.

The problem is even worse when the alleged attacker is a student athlete. As I wrote last year in reference to Jameis Winston and the University of Florida case, (“The Myth of College Safety”) colleges go to great lengths to protect star athletes. Sports is big business, and more and more, higher education is driven by the bottom line. College athletics are a major source of revenue along with alumni interest and support. Financial support from fraternity alumni at colleges is also important to the schools. “The Hunting Ground” raises this question: If so many of the sexual assaults are related to fraternity parties why not just eliminate them? Then the statistics are shown — they are money savers, in terms of providing campus housing, and moneymakers in terms of alumni loyalty.

Though the women interviewed for the film have bravely come forward to stand up and confront their attackers, sometimes at great personal cost, and the perpetrators (and universities) often claim there is not enough evidence or they have been falsely accused, almost no men have come forward publicly to defend themselves. They remain in the shadows. There is the rare, unfortunate case, like the one reported in Rolling Stone, in which the victim falsified much of her story. But that appears to be an isolated incident;  there is too much evidence, and it is too consistent for this issue to be overlooked. For example, Jon Krakauer, a meticulous reporter, recently published a very detailed book about a series of cases of rape at the University of Missouri by campus athletes called “Missoula.” It is a gripping, but heartbreaking story, and it corroborates the patterns detailed by the women in the film in every way.

Meanwhile, why do the colleges maintain their defensive position? Yes, it is costly to admit that this problem exists, but not dealing with it is worse. Not only is it absurdly unfair to the female victims, but it shortchanges the men as well. Aren’t they entitled to be at a place where living a moral life and getting a moral education is a standard that should be expected of them? Any institution of learning that doesn’t demand that of them is letting them down. Furthermore, it seems obvious that any institution that does not do the right thing by handling these matters justly is failing its students in the most important and fundamental way.


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  • MaryAnn Gaughan November 19, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Thank you for spreading the word on this powerful documentary. I believe it is important for everyone to see. Your article is well written and expressed. Now we need to do something as a society to stop the rape culture on college campuses.

  • Phyllis Dupret November 19, 2015 at 10:13 am

    As a mother, grandmother and just plain older woman I find this heart breaking…its such an unbelievably sad fact of our times..whatever it takes to change this we must do NOW……………..