Private Project

The University - Parts Five to Seven

THE UNIVERSITY is a series asking what justice looks like for students facing a university’s Title IX tribunal after a sexual assault occurs on campus.

  • Juliana Roth
  • Juliana Roth
  • Andrew Howell
    Walk Off
  • Carly Van Liere
  • Juliana Roth
  • Michael Shapiro
  • Shawki Atassi
  • V. Prasad
    Consideration, The Big House, Ocean of Pearls
  • Carly Van Liere
    Key Cast
    "Abbey Miller"
  • Ben Ahlers
    Key Cast
    "Kyle Clark"
    The Village, Instinct, Walk Off, When the Street Lights Go On, Anna Garcia Does a One Woman Play
  • Shelby Sylvia Bradley
    Key Cast
    "Deborah Mullins"
    Love Immortal, It's a Life Worth Living
  • Christy Edwards
    Key Cast
    "Lynn Morales"
    Detroit 1-8-7, A Girl Like Her, Papers X
  • Savanna Crosby
    Key Cast
    "Laurie Zinger"
    Stony Hearts, Been Broken
  • Rocco Guirlanda
    Key Cast
    "John Gershen"
    Baldwin Cafe, Moving Parts
  • Ken Alter
    Key Cast
    "William Jackson"
    Southpaw, Eternal Code, Reel Steel
  • Jeannine Thompson
    Key Cast
    "Hannah Miller"
    Star Trek: Horizon, The Tent
  • Brooks Inciardi
    Key Cast
  • Liesel Collazo
    Key Cast
    "Anna Fields"
    Jordan Jones
  • Allie Re
    Key Cast
    "Erica Lazaro"
  • Jo Ellen Pellman
    Key Cast
    "Mary Brandt"
    The Deuce, Alternatino with Arturo Castro, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  • Project Type:
    Web / New Media
  • Runtime:
    26 minutes 2 seconds
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Juliana Roth

A multi-genre writer and educator raised in Nyack, NY, Juliana Roth’s screenwriting was selected for the Atlanta Film Festival, the Socially Relevant Film Festival, and ScreenCraft’s Film Fund along with being featured on Girl Gaze and in Cinema Femme. She is the creator of the web series, The University, which follows the bureaucratic failures of a university in the aftermath of a sexual assault on campus.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Over five years ago in a screenwriting class, I pitched a feature script about a student who is deterred from reporting to the police after she’s raped and who uses her university’s Title IX reporting process instead. My own school was under investigation for mishandling such Title IX complaints, and it triggered my self-blame and confusion around an assault I’d experienced years before.

A lover of fiction and performance, in that moment I desperately needed a mask. I didn’t and still don’t think I need to share why I wrote what would — after years of reinvention — eventually become The University. At the time, Abbey was a character I could explore to find the clarity and justice I never trusted myself enough to pursue. I wanted to understand what might’ve happened had I not kept the story to myself, and to understand why I, and so many others, had chosen to.

I see the campus as a microcosm. So often, the stories of young people, especially young women experiencing trauma, are told in a disempowering way or they are forced into a clean healing narrative. That’s not what I wanted to do. I was hoping to better understand how these bureaucracies worked. There were dozens of stories from that year alone, including the delay of a valuable athlete’s case for years. I learned that the first two months of being on campus was known as “the Red Zone” and was the most likely time for a student to be assaulted, that a majority of survivors (the DOJ puts it at 90%) knew their assailant ahead of time, that male students were less likely to seek help given messaging around masculinty, that alcohol facililtated many of the assaults — often employed as a date rape drug with the frats and other party hosts known to rape other students an open campus secret, as known abusers so often are. But, for as many complaints as there were that my university botched, along with hundreds of other schools, most survivors keep their assault a secret. It’s rare to report.

My own desire for clarity around the process, to discover the ways in which my campus needed to evolve, made me think there might be others who might need the same. I hoped that by writing a story that examined the community of a campus -- the administrators and the students who witness, experience, and perpetuate abuse, alongside the professors and other staff members who make up this ecosystem -- that I might arrive at some sort of answer as to where empathy had been stunted, where ignorance and cruelty prevailed.

This is what drives The University. Each part of the series introduces a new voice to piece together not just what happened on the night of an assault, but how each individual comes to understand themselves in the knowledge of this, or resists responsibility. The reporting process itself develops its own narrative, one in which we come to question what justice might mean.

On our website, healing and change nonprofits have donated resources for our so that our viewers can have tangible steps to respond to and prevent sexual violence. Each episode features music from an independent artist, like Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez, Katie P. Bennett as free cake for every creature, Dog Tears, and The Brook Lee Catastrophe so that as the series grows, other artists may join us.

At the end of the day, I’m not a legal scholar or a policymaker, but an artist. And from this practice, I can only wonder, what if? What if administrators and police could see the fullness of the stories that are brought to them, see the small moments of self-blame and indecision that trauma breeds in an individual? Would this change their hearts? Would seeing that story change the hearts of those who move quickly to distrust a survivor? Would telling this story create a foundation on which a full, complex conversation around reporting, healing, justice, and cultural change could occur?

I’m an optimist, despite my best efforts. So, I would speculate that the schools that will lead this shift will be the ones who dare to look deeply at themselves. I hope our series might be a small piece in moving towards this.