A&M and the Bryan-College Station community provide an abundance of resources for sexual assault victims, along with resources for response and preventative measures. University Police Department Lieutenant Bobby Richardson gave his insight on how to actively be aware of possible sexual harassment incidents.
“We obviously don’t want these situations to occur, but in a population this size it can happen,” Richardson said. “If you see something, say something. Be cautious, trust your instincts and be aware of your surroundings. You can’t do any of those things if you’re on your phone or have earbuds in, so really pay attention to what’s going on around you. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t, so that’s when you want to call the police immediately.”
To reduce campus-wide cases, Richardson said raising awareness and practicing preventative measures are vital steps to take.
“If you’re going to go out at night, go out with a group of friends and stick together,” Richardson said. “Watch your drinks, and don’t take drinks from people you don’t know. Make sure you leave as a group, don’t ever leave or walk through campus by yourself.”
Victim Services Coordinator Kristen Brunson, also with UPD, outlined the steps one should take after a sexual assault incident occurs, and said medical attention should be the first priority.
“If a victim can get a forensic exam we want them to do that first, their health and well being needs to come first,” Brunson said. “If they go to a hospital they’ll get connected to a lot more resources as well as making sure their medical needs are getting taken care of. After that, they can contact law enforcement.”
There are various resources in addition to Bryan-College Station law enforcement agencies to help aid victims after assault incidents, such as the Brazos Valley Sexual Assault Resource Center. Provided contacts for victim resources can be found here.
“Anything after a medical exam and contacting law enforcement would be access to support services they might need,” Brunson said. “University Police agency, College Station Police agency and Bryan Police agency all have victim services, as well as county and district attorneys. So if the victim is comfortable with that, those services can connect to them for more resources outside the criminal justice system, as far as mental health and other needs.”
Brunson said resources for victims are plentiful, particularly for those who may be uncertain about coming forward to report an incident.
“I always encourage anyone who may be apprehensive to come forward to speak to [Brazos Valley] Sexual Assault Resource Center’s 24-hour hotline,” Brunson said. “They can always call that hotline and get more information if it’s after hours. If they’re still unsure what to do, the [hotline’s] advocates can walk them through their different reporting options to help support that victim decide what decision to make. If they’re still questioning to make a law enforcement report or not, they can also come talk to me at Victim Services.”
“One resource that enhances A&M’s response is the Green Dot Program, which is a bystander intervention training to educate students, staff and faculty how to be a bystander and intervene before you see something happening. We need to take our part as an Aggie community to step in if you see something and know who to call,” Brunson said. “I am also a facilitator for the Stand Up workshop, which educates the community how to have trauma informed conversations with someone who’s experienced power based personal violence.”
These programs give the Aggie community an accessible way to learn strategies to respond to sexual assault incidents, along with providing tools for active listening and resources in the community to delegate incidents to people who can help, Brunson said.
Information for complainants, respondents, witnesses and reporters can be located on A&M’s Title IX site, or reach out to Jennifer Smith, J.D., Texas A&M’s Title IX officer, for any questions about Title IX or compliance efforts regarding sexual harassment.