On Thursday, The Daily Texan ran a story about a bill — sponsored by Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin — in the Texas Legislature that would create a statewide task force to study how to better deal with sexual assaults on campus. The hearing included testimony from Allison Hawkins who spoke about how Texas Tech University handled a case of assault against her when she was a freshman. Her full testimony is below:
I attended a frat party three days into my freshman year of college at Texas Tech University. I was trying to have the “full college experience” that everyone kept talking about. That night multiple girls had been drugged with GHB. Some, including myself, were overdosed. The fraternity had their new members take a girl back to their dorm and rape them as a part of their initiation. Of course to them, it wasn’t rape – it was just a joke. I was raped by one of the new members while his buddies stood outside the dorm, listening, recording everything that happened. I felt humiliated and ashamed and I hated myself for letting this happen. I had no idea what to do or where to go for help. A good friend of mine suggested going to the school counseling office; I went there and met with a counselor who encouraged me to report the crime and go to the hospital. Later I felt that this was a big mistake.
I was interviewed by a cop who wasn’t trained and kept getting the process wrong, so I had to keep reliving my story over and over to this man who did not know what he was doing. I felt raped all over again. The only support I could find through all this was the Rape Crisis Center in Lubbock, and even that support was limited.
After reporting my crime, I was put through two separate investigations: one through my school and one through local police. The police and the school investigated my case along with another girl who attended the same party as me.
I was told repeatedly from both sides that her case had more evidence than mine. I was told from both sides that certain evidence made me look “unreliable.” There was security camera footage from my abuser’s dorm that showed me before and after the rape. Before the rape occurred, I was told I didn’t look “drunk enough” – that because I could walk on my own, I must not have been drugged or drunk and must have been able to consent. After the rape occurred, I was told the security camera showed me “not acting like a rape victim.” Because I wasn’t crying, because I was composed, they assumed I was lying, when really all I was wanting to do was get home.
People in charge of investigating assault and violent crimes do not understand what rape is, and have no way of knowing how an individual acts unless previous precedents and policies are set in place. I constantly felt like I had to prove myself – I was even accused of lying. I was told that because of the time of night that it had happened, they said that the only reason I would be in a guy’s dorm was for consenting sex and not rape. I was made to feel like this guy had more rights than I did. The school was more concerned about his rights being protected than the fact that he raped me. Eventually, after agonizing over two cases and retelling and reliving my rape, the guy was let free and the fraternity is still active on campus. I was not made aware of any arrests or any sort of consequence given. My rape means nothing to my college, and this group of guys are out there able to commit crimes against someone else’s daughter – even your daughters.
I regret having reported my rape. My situation could have turned out so differently had there been somewhere to go, someone to stand up for me, and walk me through the process of reporting my rape and what to do afterwards. I believe this bill can give girls a place to go, and a louder and more prominent voice when it comes to reporting these types of crimes. Most of all, this bill would put someone in charge of watching over these universities, ensuring that they are adhering to these laws already set in place when in comes to investigating a rape and helping the rape victim. Texas Tech, when investigating my crime, did not make me aware of my rights. It wasn’t until I contacted a non-profit group on my own that I was made aware of my rights as a victim.
My case was treated like any other violation, and that is not right. Sexual assault and other violent crimes are not like any other violation. They not only affect the individual for a short period of time, they affect every aspect of and indvidual’s life for the rest of their life, including friends and family members. My mother doesn’t know how to deal with my rape; she blames herself. She feels that it was her fault for not protecting me. She has to see a counselor just to understand what happened to me.
For me personally, I don’t feel safe on my own campus. Because of the lack of support from Texas Tech University, I do not feel safe and I do not know how to change that. I still see these guys every day walking around campus, smiling, free to rape another girl and turn the life of a family upside-down. This bill will give girls who have been raped or the victim of violent crime a little hope in a hopeless situation. Even better, it can potentially prevent these crimes altogether and save lives. I need you to hear me. I need you to feel the urgency and importance of this bill. This crime is important, and it’s happening on every college campus whether you choose to acknowledge it. Please try to acknowledge it. Please make this bill a priority, because I will be damned if this happens to any of my friends.
A&M Legislative Relations Ambassador Clayton Williford discusses the importance of state funding for higher education during Flagship Legislative Day at the Texas Capital building Tuesday.
Students from UT, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, Texas Tech University and the University of Houston united at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to lobby for higher education funding.
The University’s student-run Invest in Texas campaign hosted Flagship Legislative Day for students from the institutions to meet with key legislators and discuss the importance of state funding for higher education.
“At the beginning of summer, we were looking at how we could make Invest In Texas stronger,” Michael Morton, campaign co-director and Senate of College Councils president, said. “We talked about strategic partnerships with different universities to show the combined effort for higher education, and we wanted to get the flagships involved and show that student leaders across the state are very concerned about this.”
The university representatives were divided into five groups, including one student representative from each university. Throughout the day, each student met with representatives from six legislative offices and discussed how his university would impact the state of Texas.
UT’s finance junior Nancy Bonds brought up the point that for every $1 the state invests in the University, $18 is generated in the Texas economy.
“We are in a bad budget situation in this legislative session and that makes it a little more desirable to put money back into higher education,” Morton said.
Zachary Haber, a student representative for Texas Tech University, spoke to representatives about the large number of students going to out-of-state schools, raising an issue for the Texas economy.
“Ultimately, the points we brought up today were valid and need to be discussed at the Capitol,” Haber said. “The representatives were very responsive and overall, we had very positive feedback from all of them.”
Allison Sibley, the Texas State University student body vice president, said even though she was exhausted after walking around the Capitol all day, she was grateful the representatives were willing to take time out of their legislative work and listen to the students.
“As far as Texas State goes, it was very beneficial,” Sibley said. “It was an honor that UT asked us to join them in the Flagship Day, and I do think it is great to be a cohesive body for higher education.”
Published on February 13, 2013 as "Texas universities unite for education funding".
Enrollment at public universities is increasing across Texas, not just at UT-Austin.
Texas A&M University, the University of North Texas, Texas State University, Texas Tech University and the University of Houston all saw increased enrollments this year. This is the 15th consecutive year Texas State’s and the fourth consecutive year Texas Tech’s enrollments have increased.
Texas Tech admissions director Ethan Logan said the downturn in the national economy has contributed to statewide increased enrollment, among other factors.
“Generally, when you have a downturn in the economy you have an upturn in enrollment,” Logan said. “The economy starts to depress, and there are a lot of folks who want to go to college to improve the opportunity to get a job and make a good wage.”
UT-Austin admitted 8,092 first-year students this fall, which is a 13.2-percent increase from last year and its largest in history. UT’s total enrollment is the second largest in the school’s history at 52,213.
The University did not plan to admit so many students this year. Every year, the University offers admissions assuming that some students will decline admissions offers. More students than anticipated accepted admission offers.
While UT faced problems with its increased enrollment, including housing issues, other institutions were expecting or working for their increase.
Texas A&M’s total enrollment has reached more than 50,000. This is the first time A&M has passed the 50,000-student milestone.
In an email, Texas A&M spokesperson Jason Cook said the large student body has not caused the university any problems.
“University officials here anticipated the increases and planned accordingly, so the effects of the larger student body have been manageable,” Cook said.
Fall 2012 marked the 15th consecutive year Texas State has set a new record for its enrollment. Total enrollment was at 34,229, up from 34,113 last year. Texas State saw its second largest incoming freshman class at 4,251 students.
Texas Tech has also seen a steady increase in its enrollment figures for multiple years. This is the fourth consecutive year of increased enrollment. Logan said Tech has been working on increasing its enrollment since 2008. He said the university’s goal is to reach 40,000 students by 2020.
Logan said the increase is designed to be gradual so that Texas Tech’s resources are not taxed.
“At this point we have not reached a critical increase that has challenged the resources of our institution,” Logan said. “We are trying to be conservative in the effort in growing the enrollment.”
He said the university is responding to the steady increase with new resources. For example, Texas Tech opened a new residential hall this year.
University of North Texas saw a 9.2-percent increase in its first-year enrollment to 4,444 students.
The University of Houston also saw an increase in its total enrollment but a decrease in first-year students.
Despite enrollment increases in many Texas universities, the U.S. Department of Education released a report Tuesday that found the number of undergraduates in the country dropped from 18.65 million students in 2010 to 18.62 million students in 2011.
Printed on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 as: Enrollment increases across Texas