Originally posted on KBTX
By Erika Fernandez
COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) -- On Monday, Texas A&M University announced some major changes to its policies regarding Title IX investigations, specifically relating to sexual misconduct. The school said they hope it switches up the conversation around sexual assault, and allows more survivors to speak up.
Students said, while they wish these policies were set in stone from the beginning, it's better late than never.
As students return to Texas A&M for the new year, they're confident the university is taking the right steps in seeking justice for everyone.
"It just makes me feel a lot more safe," said incoming freshman Lauren Sudak. She is less than one week away from starting classes in Aggieland, but said she already knows what it’s like to feel on edge in her new home.
"The only thing I’ve been scared of is sexual assault on campus because I also live near Northgate. I've already had comments thrown at me and it's already a little scary,” Sudak said.
The school's announcement of harsher punishments for those found responsible, and more resources for victims, make the students feel more at ease.
"It shows us that we stand with those people, and we're not against them and we're not blaming them for what happened to them," said sophomore Jemima Louis.
Sexual assault survivors are also coming forward saying it's about time.
"We want to see the administration at A&M backing these policies and procedures and living by them day in and day out," said Abbie Hillis, a sexual assault survivor. Hillis is a former student at Texas A&M. She said, despite how the university handled her sexual assault case, she's confident these sanctions can change the path for future survivors.
"Having a much more concrete process for both parties is extremely important and way more fair,” Hillis said.
Survivors like Abbie say the culture around talking about sexual assault also needs to change. The more comfortable the university gets about educating students about what to look out for, the more comfortable survivors will feel telling their story.