The other side of the campus sexual assault equation By Ashe Schow
A recent documentary (I use the term liberally) called the "Hunting Ground" purports to be a "startling expose of sexual assault on U.S. campuses, institutional cover-ups and the brutal social toll on victims and their families."
But the film, with the help of depressing and dramatic music, exposes only a one-sided view of the issue designed to tug at the heartstrings and make all sexual assault accusations look credible when not all are.
The center of the film revolves around the accusation by Erica Kinsman that Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston raped her in 2012 and that the school covered it up. Stuart Taylor, co-author of the book about the Duke Lacrosse rape hoax, wrote a detailed article for Real Clear Sports about the evidence that at the very least casts doubt on Kinsman's story.
But the"Hunting Ground"never tells any side other than Kinsman's, which has changed significantly since she first reported the alleged rape. The movie doesn't attempt to present the other side of any of the detailed accusations outside of claiming schools wouldn't respond to the filmmakers' request.
An organization dedicated to stopping sexual assault and protecting due process rights for those accused, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, has some issues with the"Hunting Ground."Mainly, the organization criticizes the film's lack of attempt to "verify the accuracy of the accounts presented."
In response to the"Hunting Ground,"SAVEproduced a short video (complete with its own depressing music) in which Joshua Strange and his mother Allison tell the story of how he was expelled by Auburn University after being accused of sexual assault. Josh's expulsion from his dream school occurred even though there wasn't sufficient evidence for a grand jury to indict him.
SAVE employs the same tactics as the"Hunting Ground"by not attempting to tell the woman or Auburn's side of the story.
"You hear about the Auburn family and the university that cares about its own people," Josh says. "They didn't care about me. I thought I was part of the family. Why did I get railroaded?"
The point is that there are two sides to these stories, and the loudest activists in the media and in Congress and at the Department of Education are only listening to one side. By doing so, they have come to believe that due process is an impediment to justice when the accusation is rape.
The ability for schools to adjudicate sexual assault just as they would plagiarism comes from an interpretation of Title IX, which requires students be treated equally regardless of gender. It was originally used to ensure women had access to sports on campus.
"Title IX is not just for women. Title IX applies to all students in this country, and all students should be protected equally," Allison argues.
"You don't forfeit your rights to constitutional protection when you pay your tuition or when you get a dorm room assignment or when you join a fraternity or a sorority," she added. "You have constitutional protections throughout your life if you are a U.S. citizen — particularly if you are a U.S. citizen."