In December of 2010, I was raped by a student of Texas A&M. The City of College Station Police Department as well as the University Student Affairs Conduct Panel were made aware; however, the bruises lining my arms and legs, semen found both inside of me as well as on my sheets, and ripped clothing from that evening were not enough for either authority to move forward with the case.
My name is Abbie Hillis and I am one of many sexual assault survivors at Texas A&M. After current students recently came forward, I have chosen to provide a platform for victims to unite in sharing their stories. We are demanding a change of policy from Texas A&M University in how they handle sexual assault cases involving accused students and student athletes alike. In addition, we are requesting that the university provide more comprehensive resources for sexual assault victims.
It was my junior year when my roommates and I decided to host a Christmas party. What started as a white elephant gift exchange with my closest gal pals ended with a mutual friend bringing strangers into my home. Thus began the worst night of my life. There was a single game of beer pong between the moment that this group of boys led by a fellow classmate walked through my front door and the second I went unconscious.
The hospital was unable to test for rufilin because it escapes the system within 24 hours, but the nurse who administered my rape kit described her findings as the most evidence she had ever seen. She concluded her investigation with the words, “I’ll see you in court.” She knew I had a good case; however, the governing bodies of my community disagreed.
My entire room was boxed up for investigation by a detective while my roommates and I were interviewed by the police. The outcome? Nothing. When word came out that I had filed a report, I was berated by his friends and their girlfriends. Texts, Facebook messages and verbal attacks obliterated my self-worth consistently throughout the process. I was advised by the College Station Police Department to seek justice through the Texas A&M Student Affairs Conduct Panel, as the threshold for responsibility was lower in that system.
After reporting it to the Student Affairs Conduct Panel we proceeded to a hearing. Although the mediation session was held over conference call at my request, what I thought would be an even playing field was a room of four attorneys against my mom and I. I tried to advocate for myself, and failed, due to the lack of guidance from the Office of the Dean of Student Life. Not a single person from the police department, hospital or university advised me to get legal representation.
The Texas A&M mediators came to the conclusion that I had invited others into my house based on the details included in our Facebook event page; which was meant to keep drunk drivers off of the road, not as an invitation to rape me. I was held accountable, not him.
So what now? Why am I sharing my story? It’s time for change. It’s time for Texas A&M to change the administration and implement new protocols and processes for sexual assault victims. Starting in 2019-2020 academic year, universities in the Big Sky Conference will have to abide by the Serious Misconduct Rule which “bars any current or prospective student-athlete who has been convicted of or has pleaded guilty or no contest to misdemeanor or felony charges of a number of violent offenses, including ‘sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation or any assault that employs the use of a deadly weapon or causes serious bodily injury.’” The above policy is by far the most comprehensive and is the first of its kind in NCAA sports history. This is the start of the change but it cannot end here.
Universities across the United States, including Texas A&M, need to provide services to support victims and guide them thoroughly through the process and hold the accused accountable with appropriate punishment. A victim should never have to walk on campus next to their accused and they should never be blamed for their assaults. It’s time for Texas A&M to follow the Aggie Honor Code themselves and unite with the sexual assault survivors to be an example of fearless change amongst the very best of American universities.