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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
June 16, 2024

More than 8 words

“If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”
Black spray paint contrasted against the tan pavement of the Association of Former Students Plaza, emblazoning former Texas gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams Jr.’s jarring words from a March 1990 interview at his West Texas cattle ranch.
It’s no coincidence this vandalism took place days before Ring Day and Parents Weekend during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, making the almost 20-year-old words of Williams known to the Aggie family. The words themselves and the vandalism that was used as a means to communicate them have caused outrage on my Twitter and Facebook feed and across campus.
But there’s more to this conversation than the eight words scrawled crudely on the pavement outside of the Clayton Williams Jr. Association of Former Students building. Rather than just anger at the words said 20 years ago from a place of privilege, students should be angry that not much has changed in 20 years. His comments are still reflective of a campus culture that will end with 15 percent of female students being sexually assaulted before they graduate.
We can focus on what a man who lost the Texas governorship to Ann Richards said in 1990, or we can focus on rape today going unreported, district offices not going forward with prosecution and flimsy sentences for individuals who are convicted of rape.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Association of American Universities, only 23 percent of women on our campus who were sexually assaulted while they were a student reported their assault. As a survivor myself who did report her rape — only to have it thrown out by the attorney — I think I can understand some of the remaining “77 percent’s frustration and feelings of helplessness.”
According to the same survey, these respondents listed feelings of shame, embarrassment or worry of emotional difficulty as the main reasons for not reporting. That emotional difficulty should not be underestimated or brushed off.
After I was raped, I stopped attending my classes, I dreaded social encounters and I threw myself into my job to avoid my emotions and feelings of worthlessness. Aside from the actual encounter, the most difficult moments were reporting to the school and the police, facing my rapist during the student conduct violation process and hearing a full year and a half after I reported it from the Bryan Police Department that the district office wasn’t going to pursue prosecution.
What’s so important to me about the Step In Stand Up campaign is that it encourages students to be involved in their friends’ and other students’ experiences and be aware of what they may be going through.
The small moments that were so encouraging to me were the times my friends prompted me to go out and be social; listened and believed me when I told them what happened; drove me to the hospital and sat with me when I was getting a rape kit; made me pasta and let me sleep on the couch when I couldn’t bear to be by myself; empowered me to persevere when I had given up hope; held my hand and passed notes when I turned my fear into anger. These seemingly small acts can be really big to someone going through this.
So don’t let this act of vandalism or the 20-year-old words of an ignorant politician and businessman detract or distract from the tangible, productive efforts of Step In Stand Up and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Let it motivate you and remind you of the importance of being there for survivors.
Editor’s note: The Battalion does not publish the names or identifying information of rape or sexual assault victims.

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