Editorials

Baylor must take steps for real change

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Baylor University's board of regents says it will fire Briles and re-assign university President Kenneth Starr in response to questions about its handling of sexual assault complaints against players. The university said in a statement Thursday, May 26, 2016, that it had suspended Briles "with intent to terminate." Starr will leave the position of president on May 31, but the school says he will serve as chancellor.
Baylor University's board of regents says it will fire Briles and re-assign university President Kenneth Starr in response to questions about its handling of sexual assault complaints against players. The university said in a statement Thursday, May 26, 2016, that it had suspended Briles "with intent to terminate." Starr will leave the position of president on May 31, but the school says he will serve as chancellor. AP

Baylor has an opportunity that could help destroy the stigma surrounding sexual violence on campus.

Last week, Baylor’s board of regents took action after a report, conducted independently by law firm Pepper Hamilton, called the university’s response to sexual abuse to be a “fundamental failure.”

We got the apology, but we need the results too.

Baylor needs to show us it isn’t just trying to save face but is actually creating a safer environment for students.

The culture surrounding sexual assaults needs to change, and Baylor has an opportunity to be the leader in changing it.

 

Make sure everyone at Baylor actually understands Title IX

The law firm recommends that Baylor “instill a consistent institutional understanding of Title IX obligations.”

Title IX’s prescriptions for equal treatment and respect must be visible, understood and obeyed by everyone walking on Baylor grounds.

This should build a better culture for reporting sexual crimes and having the proper responses.

 

Give Title IX coordinators the resources they need

The Pepper Hamilton report says Baylor’s Title IX coordinators didn’t have enough support, time or resources to create an effective office.

The recommendation says to hire deputies to help restructure the office to be more effective. Baylor needs to make sure funding is provided and qualified people get hired.

 

Go back and do proper investigations on all reports

Pepper Hamilton wants Baylor to follow up with the victims identified in its review “who made reports that did not move forward” or “who made reports, but later withdrew from Baylor.”

They are victims of crimes and should be treated as such. Baylor must follow up with all victims of sexual abuse and make sure a proper investigation is done and support is provided.

The law firm wants Baylor to determine why some victims didn’t move forward with their reports, which would help locate cracks in the system and show students that victims matter.

These steps would help in removing stigma while creating a culture in which people are encouraged to report crime instead of living under its oppression.

Nothing can excuse Baylor’s past behavior, but if the university can build a campus where Title IX is effectively implemented, it could help put the campus sexual violence stigma behind.

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