A few weeks ago, the coordinator of Baylor University’s Title IX resigned, alleging that the school had prevented her from adequately investigating cases. Baylor denied the charges. But after her resignation, she appeared in a TV interview saying that a group of Baylor administrators “made sure they were protecting the brand, instead of our students.”
Late yesterday, the Civil Rights office of the U.S. Department of Education announced it’s opening an investigation into Baylor’s handling of Title IX cases. Baylor says it plans to fully cooperate.
The school has been in the national spotlight over its handling of sexual assault allegations, including several involving athletes. The results of an investigation, commissioned by the school’s board of regents, led to the firing of football coach Art Briles and the resignation of the school’s president, Ken Starr. That’s the story everyone knows.
But what’s changed on campus? How has the scandal, and Baylor’s reaction to it, been felt by students?
We asked fours current Baylor students about the temperature on campus. Meghan Mitchell, a senior; Jamarcus Ransom, a student leader and senior; Daniel Thomas, a senior and student regent at Baylor; and Lindsey Bacque, senior and student body president join us to discuss.
On how news outlets have written that there is a culture of social repression leading to a climate conducive to sexual violence:
Mitchell: “I would definitely say it’s unfair. I don’t think you can specifically judge a university or any place in the world without specifically being there.”
On how the campus has changed since the allegations came to light:
Bacque: “Something that has come out of this whole situation, that has been positive for me, is that we’re talking about these difficult issues and that’s really given us an opportunity to tackle some of these things, in light of our Christian mission. So yes, this is our standard, but how do we address the issues when we may not be able to live up to that?”
On how the school is handling the allegations and investigation:
Thomas: “When you look at the Pepper Hamilton report and you look at what came out, nobody is sitting there thinking ‘Oh man, I wish this hadn’t come out.’ … We’re upset … about the things that were found that there were victims who were not treated correctly by the university … I think people are in a sense happy that in a way that that’s come out, that that’s been dealt with. Now, as far as how it’s been dealt with and whether those things were all done correctly: I think students are hopeful that it has.”
Bacque: “Students are overall confused and hurt by what has happened at the university, but I am hopeful as well. … I think it’s really important for us to focus on doing things right today and tomorrow and to continue to do that into the future. I know that Baylor is – well, this has been a great opportunity to focus on why we’re here. … It’s strange to think of this as something that can be positive because it is such a horrible situation.”
On what this ultimately means for Baylor:
Ransom: “Baylor is an institution that is taking the necessary steps for us to recover and be stronger than we were before all this happened. One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of us are ready to move on – we’re ready to learn how we as students can contribute to the university doing this better – as well as our faculty and staff. I think a lot of them are ready to learn how they can help. … One thing that’s been hard for me – personally as a student, and some of the students I that interact with – is that it’s hard to move on because every day it seems like there’s something new in the media.”
Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.