Sexual Assault (Revised: 2000)
Sexual assault is a felony under the criminal laws of the State of Texas and will not be tolerated at Texas A&M University. Any such act committed by an A&M student is a violation of University Student Rules and subject to disciplinary action.
Texas A&M University is committed to providing an educational atmosphere in which students can achieve their goals and maximum potential. When students experience sexual assault, their sense of safety and trust is violated. This violation can seriously interfere with their lives and educational goals. Thus, the University is committed to establishing rules and procedures that are responsive to victims of sexual assault.
According to Texas A&M University at Galveston Student Rules, sexual assault is defined as:
...the oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by a sexual organ of another or anal/vaginal penetration by an means against the victim's will or without his/her consent. An individual who is mentally incapacitated, unconscious, or unaware that the sexual assault is occurring is considered unable to give consent. The type of force employed may involve physical violence or force, coercion, intentional impairment of an individual's ability to appraise the situation through the administering of any substance, or threat of harm to the victim.
According to Texas A&M University at Galveston Student Rules, sexual abuse is defined as:
Attempting or making sexual contact, including but not limited to inappropriate touching or fondling, with another against the person's will or in circumstances where the person is physically, mentally, or legally unable to give consent.
In both cases, the same definition applies whether the perpetrator is a stranger or an acquaintance or a group of individuals. Date or acquaintance rape is the sexual assault or sexual abuse of an individual by someone the individual knows. Group or gang rape is the sexual assault or sexual abuse of an individual by multiple perpetrators. Although sexual assault and sexual abuse are usually committed against women, men can also be victimized.
III. Response Protocol
If a sexual assault has "just" occurred, the following response protocol should be used:
- Make sure the student is safe. Call the police immediately, 911, (4545 on campus) if the perpetrator might still be in the area.
- Assist in preserving evidence. Tell the student NOT to change clothes, shower, douche, comb hair, brush teeth, eat or drink, and if possible not to urinate. Tell the student not to disturb the crime scene and to take a change of clothes to the hospital.
- Encourage a medical evaluation. Whether or not the student plans to press charges, a medical evaluation is needed. There may be hidden injuries of which the student is not aware.
- Arrange psychological support for the student. Get a friend of the student, a counselor, or a victim's advocate to accompany the student through medical and legal procedures.
- Encourage legal (criminal and/or civil charges) and/or University disciplinary options. Survivors can decide not to proceed with charges later.
In assisting a survivor of sexual assault, it is important to remember the following:
- It is very important that you allow the student to control the process.
- It is always the survivor's choice as to whether or not they wish to report
- Medical evidence should be collected within 48 hours if possible.
- If the student is willing to report the sexual assault to the police, it is critical that the police are contacted as soon as possible so that evidence can be preserved.
- The survivor has the option of requesting a concealed identity or pseudonym during the police investigation.
- Survivors can choose to stop the legal process.
Whether or not the student wants to involve the police or the University disciplinary process, medical examination is essential. A physical examination is necessary to take care of obvious and/or hidden physical injuries and will provide the opportunity to discuss with a physician potential communicable disease or pregnancy concerns. Rape kit examinations are available through University of Texas Medical Branch or the student's regular physician.
IV. Legal and Judicial Options
The survivor of an attempted or completed sexual assault or incidence of sexual abuse may choose the pursue the following legal and/or judicial options:
Seek Criminal Prosecution
Because in Texas, once a report to police is made, the decision to prosecute lies with the county or district attorney, not the victim. Reporting a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault to the police begins the legal process to prosecution. The sooner a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault is reported to the police, the more likely valuable evidence can be collected.
Pursue Charges Through the Campus Conduct Process
Rape is viewed by University officials as a very serious offense and can result in a range of sanctions that may include removal from the University. Disciplinary action against the student committing sexual assault is initiated by the Office of Student Life. Survivors have the option to pursue University disciplinary action against their assailant if the assailant is also a student at Texas A&M University at Galveston.
Survivors are under no obligation to pursue disciplinary action by contacting this office. During the initial consultation, the student affairs professional will clarify the disciplinary process and explain the options available to the survivor, as well as review the incident. Crisis counselors or other support persons are welcome and encouraged to accompany the survivor.
File a Civil Suit
Survivors can consult an attorney about initiating a suit in a civil court for damages against the assailant for the tort of battery. The purpose of a civil suit is to compensate the survivor for the wrong done to her/him. Civil action may be brought against the assailant regardless of whether criminal charges are pursued.
V. Victim/Survivor Rights
When an administrative hearing is held through Texas A&M University's Campus Conduct Board, a victim/survivor has specific rights as outlined in Section 26.2 of the Texas A&M University at Galveston University Student Rules.
VI. Services Available to Students
Survivors of sexual assault have a variety of campus and community resources available to them. These resources include but are not limited to the following:
Student Counseling Service
- Support in crisis and through the recovery process.
- Advocacy through the judicial, medical and counseling process.
- Assistance with contacting professors, with residence hall arrangements (for victims living on campus), with referrals, and with the disciplinary process.
- Educational programs and individual consultation.
- Individual, couples, and/or group counseling.
Women's Crisis Center, phone #765-7233 or 765-2604.