Students watched the 2015 documentary The Hunting Ground in the Student Union Theatre Wednesday.
The free screening was the first half of a two-part event, sponsored by the UMKC Violence Prevention & Response Team, the UMKC Title IX Office and the UMKC Criminal Justice and Criminology Club.
“I think it’s really important to have discussions about how sexual assault affects our community to make sure that we can respond,” Susie McClannahan, a member of the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project (KCAVP), said. “And that survivors have access to the resources they need.”
The Hunting Ground explores the occurrence of sexual assault on university campuses throughout the United States. The film also highlights the filmmakers’ criticisms towards college administrations’ handling of these incidents.
The film’s central subjects—Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino—were both victims of sexual assault at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). After filing a Title IX complaint against UNC, Clark and Pino continued to advocate for other victims across the country.
Title IX is a part of the Education Amendments of 1972 and protects people from discrimination or exclusion based upon sex. UMKC’s Title IX Office in the Administrative Center exists to help students, faculty and staff get support in the event of sexual discrimination.
The second half of the co-sponsored event last Wednesday involved a panel of experts fielding a discussion on the subject of campus rape and the resources available to survivors at UMKC
The discussion panel was composed of five experts—McClannahan represented KCAVP; Dr. Jennifer Owens, Assistant Professor of criminal justice and criminology; Michelle Kroner, Manager of the Violence Prevention and Response program; a representative from the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA); Mikah Thompson, Title IX Coordinator and Director of the Office of Affirmative Action.
The panel also fielded questions from students in attendance on a variety of subjects. These included the impact of UMKC’s minimal presence of athletics and Greek life upon campus rape statistics as well as UMKC’s number of reported incidents.
Other students asked questions about statistical data concerning sexual assault and discrimination on campuses.
One of The Hunting Ground’s primary topics was the recent slew of Title IX investigations taking place at universities across the countru. Students also inquired about the state of these investigations.
Thompson spoke to the resources provided by UMKC’s Title IX Office which provides support for students, faculty, and staff who may experience sex-based discrimination. This includes harassment, misconduct, stalking and sexual violence.
The representatives for MOCSA and KCVAP discussed the community resources available to sexual assault survivors who might feel uncomfortable coming to the university.
“We work directly with LGBTQ survivors, anyone who’s essentially not straight or not cis-gendered. We provide free counseling, we provide case management, advocacy,” McClannahan said. “We not only respond to survivors of sexual assault, we also respond to survivors of domestic violence and hate crimes.”
“MOCSA works with a little bit of everyone. Our services start from about four years old all the way up to adulthood for anyone who has experienced any type of sexual trauma,” the MOCSA representative said. “We also have an advocacy team. Our team goes to different hospitals when a call has been made and someone has been assaulted. We also do legal advocacy too, that may be going to court to get a protection order or just going to trial.”
Refreshments in the form of a full snack bar were available for students and panel members following the discussion.
Students in attendance found The Hunting Ground and the subsequent discussion panel to be very informative.
“This is my first time seeing this movie. It was very moving. There were a lot of times where it was very emotion-evoking,” Maxwell Dusch, a UMKC student, said. “Seeing it all laid out for you with the statistics and people saying it was almost infuriating.”
“It was pretty educational. I’ve heard a lot about [sexual assault] from my sorority friends because they get into women’s safety on campus. It’s never been something that I thought too much about being a male on campus, but it opened my eyes,” Phil Stover, another student, said. “I always knew it was an issue but now I’m able to see the numbers and see the faces and hear the actual stories.”
Stover felt that the members of the discussion panel were well-informed and showed genuine concern for the issue at hand.
Students seeking support on campus can reach out to the Title IX Office. Reports can be filed online at info.umkc.edu/title9/reporting/report-online.
MOCSA can be reached through their 24 hour crisis line at 816-531-0233. KCAVP can be contacted by phone or through email at 816-561-0550 and firstname.lastname@example.org. KCAVP also has walk-in hours from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Their offices are located at 4050 Pennsylvania Ave., Ste. 135.
The Hunting Ground is available for viewing on Netflix.