More than half of sexual assaults on college campuses happen to freshmen, five students and four administrators learned at a panel discussion organized by Beth Friedman (Oliver ’17) April 22.
The discussion, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, featured specialists in collegiate sexual assault, including attorney and author Susan Estrich, Atlantic contributing editor Caitlin Flanagan (Patrick Hudnut ’16), author Hanna Rosin, best-selling author Liz Seccuro and two-time Emmy winning and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Amy Ziering (Ava Kofman ’10, Hannah Kofman ’14 and Emma Kofman ’16), who recently released “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about rape culture on college campuses.
The panel was hosted by InHer Circle, an organization that specializes in conversations about issues that women and girls face.
Counselor and humanities teacher Luba Bek invited five female students who have shown an interest in these issues to attend with her, as well as Upper School Deans Beth Slattery and Sharon Cuseo and Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts.
Slattery said that the panelists changed her perception on the issues of sexual assault and rape. Previously, Slattery thought that instances of aggression happened because of miscommunication about consent, but learned through the panel that much of the violence was deliberate.
Slattery was also shocked to learn that 54 percent of assaults happen to college freshmen.
She also learned that by the time these students become seniors, assault is no longer as big an issue.
“It made me think a lot about what we could do here to get, in particular, our senior girls ready to go off to college,” she said.
Among the five students who attended was Head Prefect Sarah Winshel ’15.
She said that the panel opened her eyes to the prevalence of the issue of sexual assault and rape on college campuses.
Winshel was also deeply affected by “The Hunting Ground” clips shown at the panel, especially one segment about a female Harvard student’s experience with rape.
“To hear someone’s story is so powerful,
Winshel said. “It drove home all of the facts and information I had been hearing.”
She hopes to share the entire documentary with the community on Senior Transition Day.
“The film was so well done it felt like it reached everyone in the room,” Winshel said. “It felt like something I wanted everyone to see.”