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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Survivors of sexual assault at A&M come together to make a difference

The+12th+Woman+organization+represented+congressman+Ted+Poe%26%238217%3Bs+bills+when+he+presented+them+to+Congress%2C+working+to+reach+their+goal+of+creating+national+change.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Courtesy

The 12th Woman organization represented congressman Ted Poe’s bills when he presented them to Congress, working to reach their goal of creating national change. 

As Texas A&M moves forward with adjustments to its sexual misconduct investigation policies, a group of Aggies are continuing their effort to amplify the voices of survivors.
The 12th Woman is an organization of current and former students seeking changes in the way that A&M handles cases of sexual assault on campus. The group includes survivors of sexual assault and women who want to see A&M become a national leader in policies that prevent and properly address sexual assault.
Abbie Hillis, Class of 2012 and a founding member of 12th Woman, said the organization was formed this summer after survivors began speaking out about their experiences online.
“We started a Facebook group and we all started sharing our stories and then that group grew to be over 300 people and from that group we consolidated the stories where we had proof that we could go to A&M and tell A&M where they had gone wrong in their procedures and sanctioning with some sexual assault cases,” Hillis said. “From there we started the 12th Woman.”
Kirsten Covington, psychology junior and student liaison of the 12th Woman, said she wanted to ensure other students did not have to go through what she experienced in the sexual reporting process.
“I had gone through the university and they hadn’t ended up finding him responsible,” Covington said. “My next response was to go to the police department and file a report there, but I had signed a waiver that I wasn’t going to press charges, I just wanted something on file. I continued to see him in church and I was not able to get a protective order because we had no domestic relationship and I never received any kind of justice, so I saw an opportunity to change that for the next generation of girls.”
Communication senior and 12th Woman member Nikki Platamone said speaking with university leaders was a major stepping stone in the organization’s mission.
“We were super pumped that we got this meeting with A&M administrators and that they were finally able to hear us out and the chancellor, John Sharp, and the president, Michael Young, ended up showing up,” Platamone said. “To know that all these top officials were all sitting there listening to our stories and clearly showing concern for it, that was definitely a pivotal point. From that point on we were all very cohesive and on the same page.”
In an effort to identify and address potential issues in A&M’s handling of sexual misconduct cases, University President Michael K. Young ordered internal and external reviews of Title IX policies in June, which resulted in 11 policy changes announced in August. The university is continuing to act on recommendations made during the review process.
Hillis said the 12th Woman also had the opportunity to provide input on changes at the national level.
“Originally, our plan was to just demand change from Texas A&M, but what ended up happening is we got national attention and then we ended up being able to back a bunch of legislation into Congress that was presented this session,” Hillis said. “Congressman Ted Poe’s office had been writing a few different bills to present and submit to Congress on the issue. He reached out to us and asked if the 12th Woman would be willing to represent and back these bills.”
The next step for the organization is to remain informed and continue to demand meaningful change, according to Hillis.
“The policies and procedures mean nothing if the culture’s not there and the implementation is not there,” Hillis said. “What we need to do as a student body and as alumni is continue to demand implementation, and to check in with them.”

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  • The 12th Woman organization represented congressman Ted Poe’s bills when he presented them to Congress, working to reach their goal of creating national change. 

    Photo by Courtesy

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