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Picture House Hosts Screening And Discussion On Campus Sexual Assault

A discussion on sexual assault on college campuses follows a screening of "The Hunting Ground" at The Picture House in Pelham.
A discussion on sexual assault on college campuses follows a screening of "The Hunting Ground" at The Picture House in Pelham. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

PELHAM, N.Y. -- Sexual assaults on college campuses has become an epidemic.

Thursday night, The Picture House hosted a screening of "The Hunting Ground," a documentary about the issue of sexual assaults on college campuses with a discussion after the film.

The event was organized by Pelham Memorial High School's Women's Empowerment Club.

According to the documentary, one in five college students has been sexually assaulted. It is believed more that more than 100,000 students will be sexually assaulted next school year.

Two Westchester schools, Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers and SUNY Purchase are being investigated for Title IX violations regarding their handling of sexual assault cases.

The panel featured Kristin Bowes, the general counsel for Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, Rebecca Dince Zipkin, an attorney for Sanctuary for Families New York, Anna Utsinger, operations coordinator for Students Active For Ending Rape, Virignia Hartmare, the coalition director for PACT, and Frederic Greene, a Westchester District Attorney.

"We do a lot of cases on sexual assault," Greene said. "We meet all sorts of victims from all campuses."

Greene said most of his cases involve young women and alcohol.

Bowes said colleges have been forced to accept that sexual assault on campus is a problem.

"We don't want to believe there is a problem, but there absolutely is," Bowes said. "We've been getting more complaints. It makes us look worse and it hurts our reputation, but it's a great thing."

Zipkin works with college students and high schoolers on preventing sexual assault.

"Sexual assaults are a unique case," Zipkin said. "The instinct is to think this will never happen to me. There is a huge problem of victim blaming. The only thing that causes rape is rapists."

Zipkin said they are working to educating people about consent.

"We want boys to hear a yes along the way," Zipkin said.

On Tuesday, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell will be hosting a press conference to unveil a four-point plan to improve Governor Cuomo's sex assault bill currently pending in the state legislature.

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