My daughter will not be going to Baylor University. Although I’m an alumna and my family tree has a bounty of BU grads, Baylor is now officially off the list of colleges she will be applying to.
Like any parent, my child is the most wondrous, precious and important part of my life and nothing is more paramount than her safety. That’s why this mom is saying NO to sending her daughter to a school that has a widespread, institutionalized culture of not protecting its female students from sexual assault, most especially if the predator is an athlete.
For those of you not following the Baylor saga I suggest you Google Baylor. You will see story after story about what’s being referred to as the Pepper Hamilton Report commissioned by the Baylor Board of Regents, which tells the account of a school that didn’t give a damn about 58 percent of its student population. Or as a trustee said, “We are horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus.”
So far, football coach Art Briles has been fired, the athletic director, after being put on probation, resigned, and Baylor President Ken Starr got the demotion to chancellor and law professor. He has since resigned as chancellor, and at press time, is still living large in the president’s house at Baylor and will be pulling down six figures at the law school.
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I know we can’t protect our children from crime and that sexual assault happens on all college campuses. But as a parent I strive for finding a university that has — if not the best practices in place for dealing with rape — something better than an “oops, it sucks to be you” mentality. My take on Baylor is that from the president on down, the general consensus on sexual assault was just that. Not only were students discouraged from reporting being sexually assaulted, but when they did go to the Baylor police they were victim blamed!
As a woman, a mother and a Baylor graduate I’m furious. Fueling my rage is the reaction from other alumni. My social media feeds are thick with “Pray for Art Briles” and “Pray for Ken Starr” posts that go on and on about how these “brave” men are being made scapegoats. Right next to that on my Facebook timeline are pictures of football players doing mission work. Are Baylor alumni like cats? Do people think we’re going to be that easily distracted by the next bright, shiny thing?
Then there are all the “Hey, Baylor’s great” op eds. In the Waco newspaper, one guest columnist, a Baylor professor who teaches public relations (no surprise there) has the hubris to condense the rape culture at the university to “Baylor is not defined by one or two people, or a group of people, who did or didn’t — or allegedly did or didn’t — commit terrible acts…”
Say what? One or two people? It was the entire university that let multiple sexual assault victims down at every turn and in doing so allowed rapists to roam free on the campus. Besting that is a full-page ad in the Austin American Statesman praising Ken Starr. Are you kidding me?
There will be zero prayers made by me for either Art Briles or Ken Starr. And if Ken Starr has an ounce of respect for Baylor, he would cleanse the university of his presence ASAP. No one needs him on campus teaching at the law school. Plus, why would anyone want him teaching law? As president of a university, he couldn’t even follow the most rudimentary legality of the Title IX guidelines.
In fact, this former Waco, Texas girl is ticked off at her whole state. Why someone hasn’t administered some Lone Star justice and run him out of town is beyond me — especially after the TV interviews he’s now doing with the same P.R. handler he used during his ’90s Clinton-era investigations. As I watch the Ken Show, I wonder why he didn’t put this much energy into ensuring justice for his university's rape victims.
As for all the Baylor feel good op-eds, blog posts, etc. they need to stop right now and here’s why: Every single person who has a connection to Baylor needs to cease and desist with all the happy talk and instead focus their energy on demanding that their alma mater has a zero tolerance for sexual assault.
If Baylor, is indeed, a great university, now is not the time for obfuscation. Greatness demands accountability and transparency. Greatness also requires popping the Baylor “nothing bad happens here or least that’s what we’re going to pretend” bubble and coming to terms with the painful truth that the university egregiously failed every single woman on its campus.
Until then I don’t see how any mother could trust Baylor with her daughter. I know I won’t.