“The Hunting Ground”, raising awareness about sexual assault

On Thursday, Oct. 27, Pierce College screened Primetime Emmy Award winning documentary “The Hunting Ground” in the Great Hall from 4 to 6 p.m.

The screening featured a panel discussion with Pierce post-doctoral intern Katrina Cajucom, Psy.D, Vice President of Student Services Earic Dixon-Peters and guest speaker Jessica Romo who spoke on behalf of Strength United.

Strength United is a CSUN community agency that aims to end abuse and violence through the collaboration of mental health professionals, educators, researchers, students and volunteers.

“The Hunting Ground,” directed by Kirby Dick, is a documentary discussing rape on college campuses across the country, following rape victim’s public harassment and struggle through the American legal system.

“Statistically if there are 100 reported sexual assault cases, the law isn’t on the side of the survivor, usually about one of those people are going to actually spend any time in jail,” Romo said.

The panel discussed the issue of alcohol abuse among students, as well as the importance of staying informed and remaining aware.

“Those of you go who go on to a four-year university, it is required that while you’re there, there is an orientation that you go through that talks about how to control your alcohol, or what you should do about a possible sexual assault,” Cajucom said.  “A lot of time though, it can be information overload. It is a constant conversation.”

There is currently one reported case of sexual assault at Pierce from the previous spring semester that is in the stages of a disciplinary hearing, Dixon-Peters said.

“Until the case is complete there is a verbal privacy that we must adhere to at this point and time, but I can tell you there is one case that we are completing and results will be out and communicated with the victim and with the alleged perpetrator once we finish the discipline hearing,” Dixon-Peters said.

Statistics from surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and The U.S. Department of Justice suggest that sexual assault is a larger problem in four-year universities as opposed to two-year community colleges.

“It seems to be a bigger problem at a four-year, than at a community college. My thought is this: How do we know that? Do students know how to report what’s happening to them? Are they clear to what’s going on? Is there a stigma on campus that makes a person who has been sexually assaulted feel comfortable reporting or not reporting? As you can see from the movie, there is this fear of reporting,” Dixon-Peters said.

Strength United encourages anyone who is a victim of sexual violence, domestic violence or rape to contact their 24- hour Referral and Crisis Response Line at (818) 787-9700.