'The Hunting Ground' implies no college presidents wanted to talk. But that’s not true.

Some accuse film of misleading audience

A new film examining colleges' response to sexual assault has been well-received, but there is new controversy over a major claim the film seems to make, Inside Higher Ed reports.

The documentary "The Hunting Ground" recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will air in theatres and on CNN later this year. The film interviews undergraduate women who said they were sexually assaulted at school and faced pushback from administrators, including the first public on-camera interview of the student who unsuccessfully tried to bring charges against Florida State University football star Jameis Winston.

Sundance documentary focuses on college sexual assault, Title IX violations

The film seems to imply that no college or university presidents agreed to be interviewed for the film. In the closing credits, the following words appear on screen: "the presidents or chancellors of UNC, Harvard, Notre Dame, Florida State, Berkeley, Occidental and more than 35 other schools all declined to be interviewed for this film."

Major news outlets such as the New York Times wrote stories saying no senior officials were interviewed for the film.

But at least two presidents were interviewed—and one of those interviews even appears in the film.

Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, has publicly campaigned aggressively for colleges to be more proactive in addressing sexual assault. She is quoted in the film.

Furthermore, Inside Higher Ed reports that Carolyn Martin, president of Amherst College, was interviewed also for the film but her segment was cut from the final version.

A spokesperson for Amherst told Inside Higher Ed it was unfortunate the film implied no college presidents had been willing to speak with the filmmakers. However, he added that "we certainly hope this unfortunate matter doesn't detract from the importance of the film or the change that it is helping to further" (Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 1/29).

The takeaway:Some say "The Hunting Ground," a new documentary about sexual assault on campus, misleadingly suggests that senior college officials declined to speak with the creators.


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