Cover Story, July 2017

When God Says ‘Move,’ You Move

 

When God Says

‘Move,’

You Move

by Trapper S. Kinchen         photos by Beth Townsend

vickie Williams-Tillman is a hardworking wife, devoted mother and proud grandmother of six. she works as a clerk at st. Jude the Apostle school during the day, cleans offices at night and divides her spare time between church, family and friends. on the surface, her life seems relatively normal, but she is a certified hero.

On the morning of Sunday, February 19, while headed to the grocery store, she turned off Airline Highway onto Harry Drive. She suddenly noticed something near the roadside. A bloodied police officer was struggling to subdue a suspect in an empty church parking lot. In a split second, WilliamsTillman followed an impulse that wound up saving that officer’s life.

The embattled policeman was Billy Aime—a twenty-one year law enforcement veteran. When Williams-Tillman found him, he was trying to subdue an aggressive man who had just taken a hit of heroin. The situation was wild, and the suspect was desperate to avoid arrest—biting, hitting and even using his fingers to tear at the inside of Aime’s mouth.

Aime, who stands well over six feet tall, said, “First, he hit me with my baton, and I don’t know how many times I got hit with it. I also got hit with my flashlight. He kept grabbing stuff off of my belt. I even felt the blunt force of my radio on my head at least two or three times. And he had his hand on my gun the entire time.”

Aime did everything he could to keep the suspect from gaining control of his weapon. Unable to call for backup, he kept the assailant pinned against his cruiser. But the repeated blows to his head made it difficult for Aime to maintain his equilibrium.

Williams-Tillman came across the scene just as Aime and the suspect had reached a stalemate. Instinctively, she pulled into the parking lot and rolled down her window, asking, “Do you need help?” Aime said yes, and she quickly dialed 911. After calling for backup, Williams-Tillman turned towards Aime. She said, “I asked Billy, ‘are you going to be okay?’ And we just locked eyes. He never said anything. I saw in his eyes that he couldn’t carry on with his task, and that’s why I got out of my car.”

In what she described as an “out of body experience,” Williams-Tillman walked over to Aime and pried the suspect’s hand from his gun. She said, “I grabbed his hand and jumped on his back, everything happened so quick.” The attacker, franticly trying to break free, clawed at her. She used her body to support Aime, helping him restrain the suspect until reinforcements arrived.

For Aime, the whole experience was a blur. His mind was wholly focused on keeping his weapon in its holster, but he said, “I remember the moment she pulled in. I even remember the direction she pulled in from. Did I expect her to get out of her car? No. But she got out, and the next thing I knew, I felt her hand come across my hand and pry the suspect away from my gun.”

As soon as reinforcements placed the assailant under arrest, Aime lost consciousness. The blows to his head caused a serious concussion. In fact, Williams-Tillman’s physical support was the only thing that kept him from collapsing during the attack. Aime spent several days in the hospital, and it took three weeks of recovery before he was able to return to duty.

Meanwhile, the day after the incident, Williams-Tillman was back at St. Jude school. Her close friend and coworker, Pat Yoches, was amazed when she heard about her colleague’s heroism. Williams-Tillman and she have worked side by side for nearly a decade, and Yoches said, “I was shocked. She’s always helping people at work, but I couldn’t believe she responded the way she did to that attack. It’s just absolutely incredible.”

Aime, too, was astonished by Williams-Tillman’s bravery. He credits both God and her for rescuing him that fateful morning. He said, “There’s no doubt she saved my life.”

Aime, who stands well over six feet tall, said, “First, he hit me with my baton, and I don’t know how many times I got hit with it. I also got hit with my flashlight. He kept grabbing stuff off of my belt. I even felt the blunt force of my radio on my head at least two or three times. And he had his hand on my gun the entire time.”

Williams-Tillman placed her own safety at risk by coming to his aid. But—like the Good Samaritan in the Bible—she selflessly responded to Aime’s dilemma because it was the right thing to do. The Holy Spirit fortified her with courage, and she allowed Him to use her as an instrument for good. She said, “At the time, it was all about Billy. It wasn’t about me.”

Since that first accidental meeting, Aime and WilliamsTillman have formed an incredibly tight bond. She said, “Those few moments together have connected us forever.” They now consider each other family, and if she doesn’t hear from Aime every couple of days, Williams-Tillman checks on him. She said, “I’m always concerned about his safety, and he’s in my heart. He’s like a little brother to me.”

As citizens, we are all responsible for supporting our local law enforcement’s efforts to keep our communities safe. And it’s important for us to remember that a uniform and badge do not make a man indestructible. As WilliamsTillman said, “Police officers are only human.” In truth, they need our consideration and encouragement as badly as we need their protection.

The story of Williams-Tillman’s courage serves as a shining example of Baton Rouge solidarity. Her actions remind us that—no matter who we are—we all play an important role in uniting our city. She said, “You can’t look at people for their color. We’re all brothers and sisters. We all share the same Father. That’s what I taught my children, and it’s what I teach my grandkids.”

For Aime, his relationship with Williams-Tillman represents the spirit of the Body of Christ. She came to his aid not just as an African-American woman assisting a white man, but also as a Christian helping a fellow human being. Likewise, he and his colleagues endeavor to serve justice without partiality. He said, “BRPD doesn’t care what color you are. If you call, we’re coming. If people need us, we’re always going to come.”

No one in Baton Rouge could have predicted how God would use a local grandmother to save the life of a police officer. Aime still can’t wrap his mind around it. He said, “I’ve never been assisted before like I was by Ms. Vickie. It was a total shock. She went above and beyond what any other citizen would have done. It was almost like a family member seeing you on the side of the road and jumping into action.”

Vickie Williams-Tillman and Billy Aime are just two ordinary people God happened to bring together through an incredible circumstance. Their paths likely never would have crossed if he hadn’t been patrolling on Harry Drive or if shehadn’t stopped to check on him. Aime said, “Several other cars passed me that day. I saw them go by while I was pressed up against my unit.”

We often fall prey to distraction, and our busy modern lives make it easy to overlook important details. However, it is vital that we take the time to look up from our devices and set our routines aside. By doing so, we become vessels through which God’s love can flow outward into the community. Williams-Tillman said, “It just takes a minute to help somebody. Don’t worry about what other people think, because that holds you back. As long as I’m doing what I know God wants, I’m completely satisfied.”

Fear, hesitation, and self-interest keep many of us from doing the right thing. What makes Williams-Tillman so remarkable is her willingness to serve the Body of Christ no matter the cost. Consider how many times a day the Lord opens doors for you to help your neighbor, and reflect on how often you seize those opportunities.

Human beings—regardless of their age, race or situation—have great potential to effect positive change. All it takes is a little compassion for our fellow man and a great deal of willingness to act when we see a need. WilliamsTillman said, “I wouldn’t advise somebody to do something like I did, but when God says move, you move.”

TrapperHeadshot

Trapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into South Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from LSU in 2013 and Wayne State University in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life.

Baton Rouge Christian Life MAGAZINE

ADVERTISERS


Click here to learn more!

Click here to learn more!

Click here to learn more!

Click here to learn more!
July 2017, Millennial Life

SOCIAL VIOLENCE Hazing still a problem on college campuses

SOCIAL VIOLENCE

by Trapper S. Kinchen

Hazing still a problem on college campuses

A new academic year begins next month, and tens of thousands of students will flock to Louisiana’s universities. The population of Baton Rouge will swell as freshmen from across the globe enroll at Louisiana state University, southern University, and Baton Rouge Community College. Most of those students will seek to enhance their college experience by joining extracurricular teams or organizations, and as a result, many of them will be hazed.

Hazing is the act of subjecting someone to abuse, humiliation, and psychological ridicule as part of an initiation. These days, hazing is so pervasive in American universities that according to Dr. Elizabeth Allan and Dr. Mary Madden’s study, Hazing In View: College Students at Risk , more than half of all post-secondary students are involved in some form of on-campus social intimidation

Also known as peer-inflicted trauma, hazing affects students of all genders, races, incomes, family backgrounds and ages. No demographic is immune. Social intimidation/ abuse is most often associated with men, but a 2006 article on HealthResearchFunding.org, titled “38 Dramatic Hazing Death Statistics,” suggests women are hazed just as often as their male counterparts in academic environments. Research conducted by Dr. Colleen McGlone found that half of all NCAA Division 1 female athletes reported having been hazed.

In general, athletes experience peer-inflicted trauma more often than any other student group. Social violence typically occurs in athletic departments under the pretext of “team-building” or developing “mental endurance,” and the problems associated with sports hazing have spiked in recent years.

Hazing In View found that peerinflicted trauma in college athletics grew by 300% in years between 1978 and 2006. Hazing takes many forms and typically manifests through varying degrees of physical, psychological, and/or emotional abuse. Coercion and intimidation are used to force students into humiliating and dangerous situations. “38 Dramatic Hazing DeathStatistics” found that 67% of all hazing episodes are humiliation-based, and most of those incidents involve alcohol.

Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:1801 Hazing prohibited; penalties

Hazing in any form, or the use of any method of initiation into fraternal organizations in any educational institution supported wholly or in part by public funds, which is likely to cause bodily danger or physical punishment to any student or other person attending any such institution is prohibited. Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than ten dollars nor more than one hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not less than ten days nor more than thirty days, or both, and in addition, shall be expelled from the educational institution and not permitted to return during the current session or term in which the violation occurs.

Louisiana is actually one of 44 states that has laws explicitly prohibiting hazing on high school and college campuses. If caught, perpetrators and participants face jail time and heavy fines. Meanwhile, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska offer no legal deterrent to on-campus social violence. So universities in those states are forced to rely on individual administrative policies to handle cases of peerinflicted trauma.

Louisiana’s colleges take hazing very seriously, and when incidents are reported, consequences are usually administered swiftly. For example, in 2015, LSU’s chapter of Acacia Fraternity was suspended from campus for three years due to evidence of forced alcohol consumption and physical violence against some of its members. Likewise, Sigma Alpha Epsilon was removed from campus in 2012, returning in 2015 after charges of hazing, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and endangering the safety of others were brought against the chapter.

Even though universities are well equipped to handle problems associated with hazing, incidents usually go unreported. According to Hazing in View , 95% of hazed students do not file reports, making it incredibly difficult for universities to track


statistics on social abuse and intimidation. The same study reported that 36% of affected students said they did not alert officials because “there’s no one to tell.”

Some students are unsure where to turn after being hazed, because occasionally, university employees ignore acts of social intimidation. “38 Dramatic Hazing Death Statistics” found that 40% of college students said their coach or professor knew when specific hazing practices were occurring on campus. In some instances, faculty members actually participate in on-campus social violence. Twenty-two percent of students said that a coach or advisor instigated peerinflicted trauma.

Reporting abuse can be especially tricky for victims of on-campus social violence in Louisiana because people who submit to being hazed can legally be prosecuted under the law. Therefore, after being abused or intimidated, many students remain silent in order to avoid disciplinary consequences. Laws established to protect students sometimes discourage victims from coming forward and the cycle of peer-inflicted trauma perpetuates itself.

Young adults who submit to hazing are typically in search of inclusion. Adjusting to life in college can be difficult, and acclimating to the complex social landscape of adulthood is tricky. As

students seek independence and develop personal identities apart from their parents, they often fall prey to peer pressure.

Many freshmen have already experienced peer-inflicted trauma before ever enrolling in their first college course. It is estimated that 1.5 million children are hazed every year in American high schools. Hazing In View points out that roughly 47% of students enter college having already experienced some form of social violence.

Even though the effects of peer-inflicted trauma are mostly psychological and emotional, hazing is sometimes fatal. Hazing In

View indicates that since 1970, at least one hazing-related death has taken place on an American college campus every year. That research also concludes that 82% of deaths from on-campus social violence involve alcohol.

In February, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza died of injuries from alcoholrelated Greek hazing at Pennsylvania State University. In the months since his death, Penn State has taken control

Jim and evelyn Piazza stand next to a photo of their son, Timothy Piazza. photo credit Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com (ivey DeJesus | idejesus@pennlive.com)

Sadly, alcohol use is the number one contributor to social violence in on-campus fraternities. HealthResearchFunding.org found that 75% of fraternity members engage in heavy drinking compared to 49% of the rest of the male student population. And fraternity men are significantly more likely to commit sexual assault due to alcohol consumption.

Hazed students are often coerced into drinking extreme amounts of alcohol, which has led to increased reports of hazing-related sexual violence. The first recorded incident of hazing involving sexual abuse occurred in 1983, and according to Hazing In View, episodes of peer-inflicted trauma linked to sexual intimidation, nudity or stimulation have increased in frequency over the past 20 years.

Hazing takes place in every type of on-campus organization. Students don’t have to be athletes or members of a fraternity to face social intimidation or abuse. In fact, Hazing In View found that 55% of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience some form of peer-inflicted trauma. Visual media plays an increasingly important role in modern hazing. We live in a digital age and according to “38 Dramatic Hazing Death Statistics,” more than 50% of peer-inflicted trauma is documented through

LSU Greek Life General Policy on Hazing

No individual student, group or student organization shall conduct or participate in any activity, occurring on or offcampus, which includes hazing. Hazing with or without the consent of the student being hazed is prohibited, and a violation of that prohibition renders both the person inflicting the hazing and the person submitting to the hazing subject to discipline.

photographs and posted online via social media. So the shame, pain and humiliation of hazing often has lasting digital imprints.

There is no government agency that tracks statistics on hazing, and reports of on-campus social trauma are usually filed as “accidents.” Universities and sociology departments are independently responsible for conducting research on hazing. Most available studies are over a decade old, and there’s no way of knowing how deep the problems associated with on-campus social violence really go. Therefore, as Christians, we are responsible for trusting the discernment of the Holy Spirit and doing our part to shine a light on student coercion, humiliation and violence.

The symptoms of hazing are usually easy to detect. Signs of bodily harm (cigarette burns, lacerations, bruises, etc.), depression (self-imposed social isolation, anxiety, extreme levels of stress, etc.) and poor academic performance are three typical indicators of peer-inflicted trauma. So whether you are a student, friend or a parent, alert college officials if you suspect someone close to you has been hazed. University administrators are well equipped to investigate acts of social violence and are prepared to respond quickly when a student’s safety is at stake. With a little help from our community, the Baton Rouge 2017-18 academic year could see on-campus hazing eliminated. But it’s up to each of us as individuals to recognize the signs of social violence and act accordingly.

TrapperHeadshot

Trapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into South Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from LSU in 2013 and Wayne State University in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life.

Baton Rouge Christian Life MAGAZINE

ADVERTISERS


Click here to learn more!

Click here to learn more!

Click here to learn more!

Click here to learn more!