Summit County students, parents organize screening of documentary about campus rape
IF YOU GO
What: A free screening of the documentary “The Hunting Ground”
When: Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Colorado Mountain College, Eileen and Paul Finkel Auditorium, 107 Denison Placer Road, Breckenridge, CO 80424
For the third time in as many weeks a small group of Summit County high school students and parents gathered in a Frisco house to watch a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses.
Friday, May 8, marked Summit High School senior Marlo Provorse’s second time watching “The Hunting Ground,” a film that addresses the epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses.
Provorse, a 17-year-old soon-to-be University of Denver student, learned that one in five college women experience sexual assault and that colleges have been mishandling cases and actively discouraging students from reporting their rapes.
She and a few fellow students were so impacted by the film’s stories and statistics that they wanted the rest of their senior class to watch the movie plus as many other people in the community as possible.
They organized a free public showing at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge on Wednesday, May 13. The event will be in the Eileen and Paul Finkel Auditorium at 6:30 p.m.
“I really want lots of people,” Provorse said. “It’s really important I think, and now people are realizing that.”
BE A BETTER BYSTANDER
Psychologist Casey Wolfington, clinical director of the Bright Future Foundation, an Avon-based organization that serves people affected by domestic violence and sexual assault, will speak before the film about assault prevention and where the film comes up short.
A panel discussion with local leaders will follow the screening.
On Friday, Advocates for Victims of Assault prevention and education specialist Katie Fidrych said she had confirmed that one of the panelists would be Jennifer McConnell, the coordinator of the Forensic Nurse Examiner (formerly Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.
McConnell has said Summit County experiences similar sexual assault issues as a college campus because the resort community often draws young people who bring risky attitudes and behaviors including heavy substance use.
Fidrych expected some Summit criminal justice representatives to speak as well.
Breckenridge resident, rape survivor and global gender violence activist Shannon Galpin will also attend the event. Galpin spoke recently with the film’s producer, and she visited one of the senators shown in the film just last week to talk about campus rape.
Provorse said she hopes the screening draws boys, young men and their parents, as those groups often feel less of a need to learn about sexual assault though the issue affects them too.
Local mom Carol Christiansen said, “Parents need to see this. Parents need to see what’s going on.”
She was one of the handful of parents who watched the film Friday, and the group agreed that the screening would benefit those never affected directly by campus rape because they would be better prepared to intervene as bystanders or to support friends who have been assaulted.
A MOTHER’S CAMPAIGN
A physical copy of “The Hunting Ground” first arrived in the hands of a concerned parent in Summit about a month ago.
Jocelyn Subberwal read in the fall about University of Colorado students who had difficulty accessing sexual assault forensic exam kits.
Then in April, around the same time as her younger daughter was involved in a play about sexual violence at CMC, Subberwal called a university where her older daughter was admitted to learn about what resources were available.
“I got the biggest run around,” Subberwal said, and no one at the university could help.
She found a nearby advocates organization, who told her that sexual assault survivors should avoid the university and instead call an advocate who could meet the survivor at a hospital that could collect forensic evidence.
The advocacy group recommended the documentary, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the new book “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town,” written by Jon Krakauer, the author of “Into Thin Air” and “Into The Wild.”
Subberwal then obtained copies of both and was infuriated by what she learned.
REACHING A TIPPING POINT
Director Kirby Dick, whose 2012 documentary “The Invisible War” about sexual assaults in the military sparked a wave of reform, highlights in “The Hunting Ground” that 9 in 10 students who are raped don’t formally report their assaults.
Only two perpetrators spend a day in prison for every 100 rapes, according to recent data from the U.S. Department of Justice compiled by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). The remaining 98 walk free.
The movie includes interviews with dozens of victims of assault (including a handful of men), their parents, college administrators, professors, lawyers, politicians, a former campus police officer and even one man who was incarcerated for six years for sexual assault.
The documentary follows Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, two former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students who were raped and led a campaign to file a Title IX complaint against their school.
The film also includes interviews with Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, who carried her mattress everywhere on campus in protest of her alleged attacker being allowed to remain at the school, and former Florida State University student Erica Kinsman, who received death threats while she said FSU protected her alleged rapist and the recent No. 1 NFL draft pick Jameis Winston.
The film discusses PTSD, suicide and other mental health issues that result from sexual assault and the repeated trauma of having to face perpetrators in dorms, classrooms, cafeterias, libraries and other campus settings. Lady Gaga recorded a song, “Till It Happens to You,” for the film.
The documentary focuses on forces keeping colleges from properly addressing the issue from student recruitment and alumni donations to fraternities and college sports revenue.
The film shows scenes of campus protests in the 1970s and 1980s that mirror those happening today, and it ends with a note that if nothing changes more than 100,000 students will be sexually assaulted in the next school year.
The screening isn’t intended to scare anyone from going to college or parties, Provorse said. She simply wants people to become more aware about campus rape culture as roughly 100 universities are now being investigated by federal authorities.
She and fellow student organizer Christa Gutzel plan to return to Summit High School as college students to talk about the issue.
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