One expects to find differing opinions about a proposal that would significantly change the status quo. Civil discourse should allow for the thoughtful articulation of such opinions. Our national public square needs much more of it. However, one column published Sunday, written by former Texas House representative Stan Schlueter, was not thoughtful in its presentation and certainly was not civil.
In the column, Mr. Schlueter alleges that Baylor President Ken Starr has been “less than truthful” in his communications about the transition agreement, resorting to “bully tactics and dishonesty.” To impugn Judge Starr’s character and leadership in disregard of demonstrable truth is unfair and unseemly. It’s especially disappointing that it has come from a former elected official and public servant who surely knows better and can distinguish between a considered argument and a personal attack.
Those of us who have been honored to serve with Judge Starr during the past three years know him as a person of deep personal integrity who has a profound love for Baylor and a commitment to the truth. This has been amply demonstrated time and again. His motives in encouraging alumni to approve the transition agreement are based in one desire — to bring the Baylor family together in pursuit of Baylor’s mission.
I am convinced that the transition agreement, with a strong license agreement relative to ongoing production of The Baylor Line, is the right thing for Baylor and its alumni. In point of fact, the transition agreement actually strengthens The Baylor Line’s independent voice by creating a new legal entity called the Baylor Line Corporation whose sole purpose will be to publish the magazine — in contrast to the BAA’s obligation to fulfill multiple purposes — and whose license with Baylor is grounded in current law and clearer standards of compliance than the license agreement under which the BAA has operated the past 20 years. The Baylor Line would enjoy a level of protection for its content similar to the protections enjoyed by Baylor faculty in their research and teaching — and that is a quite potent protection. For the good of all Baylor alumni and for the preservation of the Baylor Line’s independent voice, I urge BAA members to vote “yes” for the transition agreement this Saturday.
But the choice we should all make is to engage in dialogue that is constructive, without malice. Mr. Schlueter knows better.
Brad Toben has served as the dean of Baylor Law School since 1991.