On Thursday 22 October, The Byre Theatre hosted an exclusive screening of The Hunting Ground, a new documentary about the topic of sexual assault on university campuses. The film explores the experience of two former University of North Carolina students who were raped while enrolled and led a campaign against the university.
The screening was organised by the StAnd Together Initiative, a joint effort between both the Students’ Association and the University which “hopes to bring awareness to important student welfare issues, such as consent, personal safety, responsible alcohol use, and more.”
The initiative has previously organised a series of workshops aimed at educating people on the concept of consent, under the “Got Consent?” project. After the screening, the theatre hosted a question and answer session with a panel including members of the University. The director of the film, Emmy award winner Kirby Dick, was also in attendance.
Sigrid Jørgensen, the Association LGBT officer who was a member of the panel, spoke to The Saint about the screening.
“I think the topics presented in The Hunting Ground are very relevant to St Andrews because, as progressive or forward thinking as we like to think we are, sexual assault is a very real problem in St Andrews and it isn’t until this year that the university has actually made necessary policy changes,” she said.
She continued: “Sexual harassment is something that a lot of students in St Andrews will, and have, experienced during their time here.” Ms Jørgensen also spoke about the Association and the University’s continuing efforts to tackle the issue of sexual assault in St Andrews, saying:
“The Association and University have made incredible strides in the direction of improving how sexual assault claims are filed and dealt with. “The Association has started the StAnd together campaign this year and is one of the most important initiatives, within this area.
“StAnd Together, through the Got Consent workshops, has started the conversation about sexual assault and harassment in St Andrews and the first step to changing a culture or fixing a problem is bringing it to the forefront of students’ minds.
“Once the conversation begins, we hope that Got Consent will help inspire our fellow students to step up and question anything that they think is wrong or doesn’t sit right with them.
“StAnd Together is a ground-breaking initiative that, in my experience, has already started to impact the way students are standing up for each other.”
Director of Representation, Joe Tantillo, also told The Saint about why he believes the screening was important to St Andrews students and the StAnd Together initiative.
“The Hunting Ground screening provided an excellent platform to discuss what the University and Students’ Association are doing in order to prevent sexual misconduct here at St Andrews and what can be done in the future to strengthen current efforts and continue to make St Andrews a better and safer place for all students,” he said.
“The film sparked intense discussion about the issue of sexual assault, and as a result I personally have seen an increase in both awareness of, and a keenness to participate in, our StAnd Together initiative. I would encourage all students to watch the film and to join the discussion about how we as students can come together and strengthen our St Andrews community.”