It’s difficult to think or speak about. It sends chills down our spines when the thought of it crosses our minds, but the fact is that college sexual assault—and protection from it—is something that we need to address. To help raise awareness and shine a light on a “Yes Means Yes” legislation bill, the JFCS Project SARAH Domestic Abuse Program will host a screening of the movie “The Hunting Ground” on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Carmike Theaters in Voorhees.
“The Hunting Ground” documentary film is a startling—but necessary—expose of sexual violence on US college campuses, the institutional cover-ups, and the student survivors leading a movement for change. The screening of the film is scheduled as the “Yes Means Yes” bill, sponsored by Sen. James Beach, moves through the New Jersey Senate. The “Yes Means Yes” legislation seeks to replace the often-cited “No Means No” slogan which has been used in campaigns for sexual assault prevention, and that advocates say placed the burden on victims to prove they resisted. The bill will require higher education institutions to adopt an affirmative consent standard and numerous other policies regarding sexual assault in order to receive state funds for student assistance programs.
“This approach shifts the way sexual assault cases are investigated, and will change the way that rape is discussed and treated on college campuses,” said Beach (D-Camden). “It will create a more supportive environment and get rid of the notion that victims must have verbally protested or physically resisted in order to have suffered a sexual assault. This is about better protecting young people and changing the culture at our colleges and universities.”
Under the bill, in order to receive state funds for student assistance programs, the governing board of each institution of higher education must adopt a policy concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking involving a student, both on and off campus. The institutions must also implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs regarding the same issues.
“Rape culture is a real and palpable issue within every college— no one is immune. Not only do we have the responsibility to keep our daughters safe; we need to educate our sons to be leaders in the ‘no means no’ movement,” said Hilary Platt, coordinator for the JFCS Project SARAH Domestic Abuse Program. “Whether our children are in high school or college, parents can start the conversation; this documentary will give us the skills to do so.”
In a joint statement, The Hunting Ground screening event Co-chairs Heather Leibowitz and Hope Morgan said, “With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we are striving to bring critical awareness to our community. Last year’s event featuring Tanya Brown showed how adult women faced domestic violence issues. This important film shows another aspect of the disturbing trend on college campuses that our young people must face, and it is one that both male and female students need to understand.”
The must-see screening of “The Hunting Ground” (www.thehuntinggroundfilm.com; PG-13) on Oct. 20 is open to the public for a donation of $15 for adults and $10 for students, and includes soda and popcorn. Tickets to be purchased in advance, here: www.jfcssnj.org/huntingground All proceeds support the JFCS Project SARAH Domestic Abuse Program. A special address by Sen. Beach will take place at the beginning of the screening, and attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A segment after the film.
Director of Communications & Marketing, JFCS – Cherry Hill
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