When people think of college they think of care-free students having the time of their lives, meeting people, partying and taking classes somewhere in the midst of all that. Few people associate college with the risk of being sexually assaulted. However, that is changing as victims of sexual assault take a stand and fight to change the stigma attached to reporting cases of sexual assault.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

  •  One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college
  •  More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault
  • 63.3% of men at one university who self-reported acts qualifying as rape or attempted rape admitted to committing repeat rapes

In most cases, victims of sexual assault often bury their secret for fear of shame, embarrassment and being labelled. But all this does is leave perpetrators free to continue committing sexual assault and having countless others fall victim to their behavior.

The 2015-documentary, The Hunting Ground, serves as a monumental exposé of rape culture on college campuses. The film encompasses personal stories of sexual assault victims who speak of the initial attack, the horrifying days and months that followed and the countless attempts to find justice.

The film brings to life the mission of two rape survivors who were determined to stand up against sexual assault. Annie Clark,  who was sexually assaulted before her classes even began at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Andrea Pino, who was also raped at the UNC- Chapel Hill campus during her second year, were brought together following their shared experiences of sexual assault as well as the lack of support and the mistreatment that came from university administration following report of the crimes.

Andrea Pino and Annie Clark

The film narrows in on universities reactions to reports of sexual assault, that their concern isn’t the student victim but the institution’s reputation. If cases of sexual assault are exposed then this increases the risk of detracting potential applicants from the university. And often, these universities are the biggest and most reputable ones in the nation. This results in university administration downplaying cases and often blaming victims as the cause of the problem.

After countless failed attempts to seek justice through the school and see attackers expelled, Andrea and Annie focused on researching everything to do with sexual assault. It was then they became familiar with Title IX. They started building a network of young women committed to raising awareness about rape on college campuses. After they filed their own Title IX complaint against UNC-Chapel Hill, this prompted a series of federal investigations into the college’s policy towards reports of sexual assault. This has resulted in much change within their college and began a ripple effect at other universities as they shared with other women and rape victims how to file their own Title IX complaints against their universities.

Together, Andrea and Annie have founded End Rape on Campus, which provides support and education to survivors and their communities. They have also released a book, We Believe in You, that features stories from 36 people of different backgrounds who experienced sexual assault on campus.

“Survivors have many different faces — they are men, they are women, they are folks in between — and they are people after their experiences” – Pino.

“The keys to ending sexual violence are early education and creating a culture that doesn’t blame the victim. This is the only crime in which the victim is the one that’s questioned, is the one that is not believed when they come forward” – Clark

Follow Andrea and Annie on Twitter to keep up-to-date with their latest projects and continued fight for an end to campus sexual assault.