In hopes of educating students on sexual assault, Trojan Outreach (TO) hosted a movie screening and discussion of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary featuring real college students from universities across the United States with their personal sexual assault stories.
According to the The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll (2015), 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college.
According to Riley Jacks, a graduate counseling major and the coordinator for Trojan Outreach, the organization is an education program on campus working with the Student Services Office through events and presentations to many campus organizations.
“We try to talk about topics that aren’t typically covered in the classroom but still relevant to college life, whether that’s stress management, drug and alcohol abuse or sexual assault,” Jacks said. “We are striving to make our campus better through raising awareness and advocacy.”
The purpose of “The Hunting Ground” is to shed light on sexual assault.
Different stories were told, but the same plot was reiterated. These students went to college parties where they were either attacked physically or offered drinks with hidden drugs and then raped.
Often, victims who were brave enough to report what happened to authorities did not receive much consideration. According to the film, most universities do not want to admit that sexual assaults happen on their campuses in order to protect the schools’ images in the eyes of prospective students and their families.
Several student victims were confronted with victim blaming and questions about what they were wearing or whether they were too drunk.
Two women decided to step up to voice their opinions. They believed their being ignored, after everything that had happened, was in violation of Title IX, which states that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Their movement, documented in the film, reached out to many college students and started to gain influence.
Following the screening, there was a discussion in which many audience members stated they found the movie, especially the statistics shown, to be very shocking.
“I wasn’t aware that so many women went without reporting sexual assault,” said Cade Ashley, a junior economics major from Jemison.
He said now that this movement is underway, everyone can take responsibility, come forward and raise public awareness about sexual assault on campus.
“Talk about it,” Ashley said. “People spoke, and people listened; we were willing to be informed and have minds changed.”
Most people at the meeting agreed that what a person chooses to wear to a party does not mean the person is giving consent and rape is not excusable. They said the education system needs to put more emphasis on how to be respectful to other people and to teach that sexual assault is unacceptable.
Jacks stressed the importance and urgency of discussing sexual assault.
She also recommended proper steps to take if a person contacts someone they know after being raped.
“I believe we need to be equipped with how to deal with this situation and be reactive to it,” Jacks said.
According to Jacks, the most important thing a person can do for a victim is get them to a safe place and assure them that whatever happened is not their fault.
The next step after the victim calms down is to ask them to give their account of the incident as soon as possible.
“Get them to write down or record what they said, because they might forget some crucial details after a while,” Jacks said.
The victim should not shower but should be taken immediately to the hospital for a sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kit.
“Hospitals in Troy are equipped with the SAFE kit, and they will report to the police right away if the result is positive,” Jacks said.
Finally, Jacks strongly encouraged people to get counseling. She said victims often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being raped, and getting professional help is the best way to recuperate.
The campus counseling center is located right across from Paden House and offers free services to students.
With spring break approaching, Jacks strongly encouraged students to enjoy the break responsibly for themselves and others by detecting potential dangers and trying to stay away from them.