In his July 31 guest column in the Trib, Baylor University Interim President David Garland asserted that Baylor would accept as mandates all 105 Pepper Hamilton law firm recommendations regarding sexual assaults. Perhaps the most significant is the very last one: “Update Clery analysis and assess reporting obligations based on Pepper Hamilton findings.”
Chances are you’ve never heard of Clery. Baylor never refers to it. This federal statute was only mentioned once or twice in all of the Waco Tribune-Herald’s reporting of the Baylor scandals.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or Clery Act requires Baylor to report to the public a summary of all offenses that have occurred on or around its campus. The Clery Act was signed into law in 1990. The law is named after Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University student who was brutally raped and murdered in her campus residence in 1986. Her murder triggered a backlash against unreported crime on campuses across the country.
The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses. Compliance is monitored by the U.S. Department of Education, which can impose civil penalties, up to $35,000 per violation, against institutions for each infraction and can suspend institutions from participating in federal student financial aid programs.
The public often visits the Baylor campus to attend sporting and cultural events. They have a right to know just how safe the campus is. Baylor has information about many offenses uncovered by the Pepper Hamilton law firm. But Baylor refuses to divulge just how many offenses there were or the nature of these offenses — in short, date rape, sexual assault, stalking, harassing, groping, etc. By withholding evidence of unreported crimes at Baylor, the board of regents itself may be guilty of violating, if not the letter of the Clery Act, then at least its spirit of openness.
One might ask how come Pepper Hamilton was able to uncover these many offenses and Baylor was not. The answer is simple. Baylor did not know because Baylor did not want to know. And Baylor does not want you to know either. Shame on Baylor!
Regent Chairman Ron Murff says the school “did not implement Title IX properly.” The question is, “Why not?” Was it just a misunderstanding of the law or did Baylor choose to ignore certain provisions of the law? Surely Pepper Hamilton detailed every aspect of why Baylor chose not to implement or follow Title IX. But Baylor has not yet made a full accounting of how it failed to protect students, employees and anyone who visited the Baylor campus.
This is not a matter of student confidentiality or attorney-client privilege, It’s a matter of public safety. Transparency is not just a good idea, it’s the law.
Baylor wants you to forget the past and focus on the great job it will do in the future. It does not want to be held accountable for its past mistakes, some of which were possible violations of law. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t punish them. That’s a weird sense of justice. Just let the offender go unpunished if he promises not to do it again.
The best way to teach young people about accountability is to be accountable yourself. Baylor should set the example and accept the recommendation to “Update Clery analysis.” It can either comply with all the requirements of Title IX and the Clery Act like virtually every other university is required to do and accurately report crime statistics — or it can forego any federal assistance, including participation in the federal student loan programs.
W. Richard Turner is a retired industrial research chemist who lives in Hewitt.