Philadelphia Debut of ‘The Hunting Ground’ & Discussion with Filmmaker

“Triumphant… a stirring call to action” – Indiewire   The Hunting Ground is a moving new documentary from the Oscar-nominated filmmakers behind The Invisible War. Their new film explores the problem of sexual assault on college campuses, and the broad failure of university administrators to protect victims and hold assailants accountable for their actions. As much as The Hunting Groundis about failures of our society and institutions, it is also an illuminating profile of the college activists who, by working together, transformed themselves from rape survivors to advocates demanding reform. The incredible young women featured in The Hunting Ground successfully sparked a long-overdue conversation what college administrators can and should be doing to prevent and properly adjudicate sexual assault. Now, we want to continue that conversation with you. This Friday, The Hunting Ground will premiere in Philadelphia at the Ritz Five theater. Following the 7:05 screening, The Hunting Ground producer Amy Ziering, Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center NSVRC, Kristen Houser of Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape PCAR, and Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy will discuss the film. We understand that Friday is an important religious holiday, but wanted to extend this invitation to learn more about this incredible wave of activism, meet the film’s producer and hear from Carol, who served as an advisor to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and who has a cameo appearance in the film. The Women’s Law Project has provided legal assistance to students for many years. Recently, WLP spoke out against flawed criticism of the new adjudication process implemented at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where Carol is also a lecturer in Women’s Studies. We hope to see you on...

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WLP Attorneys: Penn Professors Are Wrong

By Tara Murtha, WLP Staff   Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy, Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson and Staff Attorney Amal Bass, lawyers with extensive experience working with Title IX, the civil law that prohibits discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding, have written an open letter responding to University of Pennsylvania professors’ criticism of their school’s new system for adjudicating sexual assault complaints. The background: Last month, in response to ongoing criticism and national debate regarding how schools should appropriately handle accusations of sexual assault, the University of Pennsylvania announced a new disciplinary system designed to improve adjudication of rape allegations. The changes went into effect on February 1. From the Philadelphia Inquirer: Penn joins a growing number of schools around the country that have examined their practices in the wake of increased scrutiny over the handling of sexual assault and harassment on campus. More women are coming forward to lodge complaints, and men who are accused of assault in some cases are suing universities for disciplinary action taken against them. More than 90 universities around the country — Penn is not one of them — are under review by the U.S. Department of Education for their handling of sexual assault. Last week, 16 of the University’s 49 tenure or tenure-track law school faculty members (16 of 67 full-time law school staff, according to the school’s website) signed an open lettercriticizing the new system. The dean of the law school did not sign the letter. On Wednesday, 26 students at University’s law school responded to their professors’ criticism and defended the new system. From the letter from students to professors: “[Your] letter perpetuates the harmful myth that survivors of sexual violence should be disbelieved, silenced and denied non-criminal relief unless they seek and obtain criminal conviction of their assailant.” Specifically, the law students accused the professors of “conflating” the rules, scope and evidentiary standards applicable to courtroom trials of criminal defendants with the actual issues at hand, which are the rules, scope and evidentiary standards of the school-based adjudication process for identifying student misconduct. “[The professors’] Open Letter must be seen for what it is: a disagreement with Title IX’s mandate that sexual assault survivors not be made to struggle through grievance procedures that specially insulate those accused of sexual assault,” wrote the students. Attorneys at the Women’s Law Project with extensive experience working with Title IX also responded to the professor’s letter. From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer: With all due respect, the 16 law professors who have objected to the new disciplinary procedures for sexual violence have it wrong… Our decades of experience working directly with victims...

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Sexual Assault on College Campus

20% of young women and 6% of young men will experience a completed or attempted rape during their college career. Young women in their first two years of college are at the highest risk of sexual assault. Fear of retaliation, self-blame, lack of confidence that something will be done, and lack of understanding that what was done to them is a reportable problem…

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Usually Know The Person

Female college students usually know the person who sexually assaulted them. Most campus sexual assaults are committed by a perpetrator who is known to the victim. Most often, the attacker is a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, classmate, friend, acquaintance, or co-worker. Because they frequently know their perpetrators, college students are less likely to report sexual harassment and assault. Low reporting can have an enormous impact on the incidence of future assaults because perpetrators of campus sexual assault are frequently repeat offenders. A 2002 campus study found that 120 rapists were responsible for 1,225 separate acts of interpersonal violence, including 483 acts of rape. Repeat rapists averaged 5.8 rapes each. Low reporting rates and lax disciplinary proceedings on campuses leave perpetrators in a position to perpetrate additional assaults. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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Unable to Complete Their Education

Due to sexual victimization in college, many promising students are unable to complete their education and achieve their goals. Our schools need to do more to prevent sexual harassment, deter sexual predators on campus and respond appropriately to sexual misconduct. For too long, campus victims of sexual misconduct have suffered in unresponsive environments embedded with victim-blaming myths. Much like women in the military, campus victims of sexual misconduct have struggled through confusing policies and systems while seeking justice. In addition to the devastating physical and mental health consequences of sexual harassment and assault, many victims experience re-victimization at the hands of university officials, law enforcement and other community members who trivialize or dispute their assaults. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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Many Reasons Victims Do Not Report

Fear of retaliation, self-blame, lack of confidence that something will be done, and lack of understanding that what was done to them is a reportable problem are some of the many reasons victims do not report sexual harassment or assault. Various estimates suggest only 5-11.5% of campus sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement, meaning that 88.5-95% go unreported. Fear of retaliation, self-blame, lack of confidence that something will be done, and lack of understanding that what was done to them is a reportable problem are some of the many reasons victims do not report sexual harassment or assault. Due to low reporting rates by victims, there are serious concerns that colleges and universities do not publicly report all known instances of sexual victimization. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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First 2 Years – Highest Risk of Sexual Assault

Young women in their first two years of college are at the highest risk of sexual assault. Women attending college are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault to an extent greater than their non-college peers. Young women in their first two years of college are at the highest risk of sexual assault. Recent studies estimate 20% of young women and 6% of young men will experience a completed or attempted rape during their college career. Almost 2/3 of college students report experiencing some form of sexual harassment during their college careers, with nearly 1/3 of college students reporting being touched, grabbed or forced to do something sexual while in college. Both male and female students are likely to be sexually harassed: women were typically subjected to sexual comments and gestures, while men are more likely to be targeted with homophobic comments. The rates of sexual harassment in middle and high schools are just as high. In a 2011 survey conducted by the AAUW, almost 50% of students in grades 7-12 reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment or assault at some time in their school career. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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Life-Long Consequences

Sexual harassment and/or assault experienced in college can cause physical, emotional & educational consequences that may be life-long. The health consequences resulting from sexual harassment and sexual assault are extraordinary and long-lasting, impacting a victim’s academic, social and future pursuits, in addition to their physical and mental health. Physical injuries from rape may include genital injury, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as bruises, black-eyes, cuts, scratches, and swelling. Victims of sexual violence may be subject to chronic reproductive health conditions such as painful, prolonged, and heavy menstrual periods and sexual dysfunction. Victims of rape also experience a wide range of psychological harm: shock, humiliation, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, anger, distrust of others, fear of STIs, such as HIV/AIDS, and guilt. Sexual harassment affects the health of young women in similar ways. In addition to negative effects on their education, victims may experience depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, headaches, weight loss or gain, loss of confidence and self-esteem, and PTSD. SOLUTIONS Take Action Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these resources to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) Op-ed on recent action taken by the Department of Education to address sexual assault on college...

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Solutions for Sexual Assault on College Campus

An appropriate and effective response team to handle sexual harassment and assault in school environments requires coordinated programming and action by multiple actors at the school, state, and federal level. For K-12 Schools: Adopt and publicize a non-discrimination policy that outlines the school’s responsibilities with respect to responding to sexual violence and identifies procedures to be followed and the identity of staff to contact if sexual victimization is experienced or observed. Provide early education on sexual harassment and sexual assault be integrating gender violence into the curriculum so that students understand what it is, that it is not acceptable and how to report it. Implement bystander education programs, which engage students by imagining every person as a potential witness (rather than the victim or perpetrator) of sexual violence. Provide mandatory education to the entire school staff by recognized experts in the area of sexual violence on how to identify sexual harassment and how to respond to it. For Colleges & Universities Adopt a sexual harassment policy that is readily available and clearly describes all forms of sexual misconduct, including what is and is not consent, prevalence of non-stranger sexual assault (acquaintance rape), drug facilitated sexual assault, the effects of sexual assault, how to report an assault, and available resources on campus and in the community. Adopt a procedure for community members seeking to file a complaint. The procedure should be written in easily understood language and widely disseminated so that students know it exists, how it works, and how to file a complaint. Train campus police, security personnel, and other individuals charged with responding to sexual victimization to effectively respond to sexual assault complaints. Make crisis intervention services available to students 24/7, every day of the school year, and make free emergency contraception, antibiotics and post-exposure HIV preventative treatment available in school health centers. Make long-term counseling services available for students, including access to unlimited free counseling for survivors. Provide annual educational programs regarding sexual assault. Promote reporting of sexual assaults by better handling of reports, having peer educators and advocates, and assuring that victims will not be punished if they report an assault that occurred while they were drinking or using drugs. Administer appropriate discipline, including suspension and expulsion, in order to eliminate the hostile environment, enable the victim to recapture her life, and prevent repeat offenders. NCAA Adopt a gender-violence policy that sets forth clear actions for individuals and schools that violate the guidelines. Pennsylvania Adopt legislation that protects individuals who testify in school internal judicial proceedings from being sued by persons against whom the judicial proceedings were brought. The current lack of legal protection deters victims...

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