As part of Senior Transition Day, the documentary film “The Hunting Ground” was shown to inform graduating seniors about the issue of sexual assault on college campuses across America. As part of the film, countless brave men and women were interviewed about their experiences with sexual assault on college campuses.
With each survivor’s story, the sickening fact sunk in that virtually every college campus in America deals with not only the issue of students assaulting each other but also the problem of administrations not taking appropriate action by expelling students who are found to be guilty of these crimes.
However, the most disturbing and impacting moment during the movie for me personally was the story of Lizzy Seeberg. As a freshman at St. Mary’s College, Seeberg committed suicide after she was attacked on the neighboring campus of the University of Notre Dame. As soon as I heard this, I was moved.
I knew that most people in that auditorium knew I would be attending Notre Dame next fall, and I started to feel sick. As Seeberg’s father continued to tell his daughter’s tale and described how the police on campus claimed they were searching for the accused perpetrator, even though he was on the football team and his every day was scheduled down to the minute, I started to feel even more upset.
I had heard about the allegations against the University of Virginia and the growing negative stigma. Was I going to be attending a college with the same reputation for mishandling sexual assault allegations?
As I started to look around the room, however, and think of all the other colleges and universities my classmates would be attending, I started to realize that I was being unfair to myself and to Notre Dame.
I was not the only person who would be attending a college that is affected by sexual assault in some way. As a member of the student body who is aware of this issue, it will be my responsibility to inform my classmates about not only the issues that have occurred at Notre Dame and St. Mary’s but also about the sexual assault issues that happen across the nation. And this responsibility does not mean I have to discount Notre Dame and shame the institution.
Watching “The Hunting Ground” made me realize that having school pride and loving your college is a vastly different thing than turning a blind eye to sexual assault. Just because I am proud that I will be attending Notre Dame does not make me a supporter of suppressing sexual assault reports. In fact, my love for my future college fuels a desire inside of me to make Notre Dame even better than it always is by raising awareness about this issue.
I am glad that I was able to take more from watching “The Hunting Ground” than a greater understanding of how college campuses are affected by sexual assault. I feel that it important for everyone, not just college-bound seniors, to realize that the students of a school determine its reputation and have the power and responsibility to establish the environment on campus.
I hope that when I find myself in South Bend next year, I am able to voice my opposition to oppressing sexual assault claims and inform my class of this national issue. My goal in doing this is to help form and create a student body that would publicly debate such important topics and have the courage to stand up when injustices are committed.