Baylor Homecoming is an exciting time of year, not only for Baylor alumni but Waco-area residents. The weekend at hand offers an undoubtedly spirited football game (Kansas almost bumped off TCU a week ago), a Saturday morning parade (see you at 8) and such individual draws as the alumni picnic and the bonfire.
But this year BU alumni — between catching up with one another — should also be debating Baylor University’s future amid exceedingly troubled times. Mindful alumni should be pressing reforms to ensure their alma mater’s governance, integrity and accountability. And if this means politely but firmly forcing cornered regents to fully discuss such reforms, so much the better. If such discussions don’t happen, Baylor may pay the price in ways that justify the humiliation of all.
Regents are not only leaders in Baylor’s destiny but accountable representatives of the alumni upon whom so much of Baylor’s future depends. Many alumni allege, correctly or not, that regents have acted more out of self-interest than in the interest of the university amid a worsening scandal over handling and preventing sexual assaults.
Among factors that enable the BU board of regents to dig itself deeper and deeper into an abyss: its tragic penchant for secrecy — not only through closed-door meetings but an obviously failed strategy of ignoring charges of incompetence and mismanagement that continue to pile up at its door. Regents’ strategy seems to be: Ignore the charges, ignore the scandal and maybe it will all go away.
Meanwhile, Baylor — a university that ought to be garnering national attention for its supposedly Christian principles, pioneering research and athletic strides — instead allows its enemies and doubters to further define it. Without forces to actively and honestly counter damning claims (except in court, facing lawsuits), or at least answer them, regents bolster the arguments of those who claim they’re further mishandling a widening crisis.
Indeed, alumni now gather as fallout spreads from the resignation of Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford, who claims Baylor senior leadership has actually resisted her efforts to safeguard student rights and battle gender violence; evidence of dissension in the ranks of the coaching staff; and the likelihood of a U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights investigation, which Baylor had hoped to avoid. Not anymore.
We wish all alumni an enjoyable weekend. But if they and regents aren’t having painfully frank discussions about reforms involving transparency and accountability — for instance, BU regents meeting formally with the press after each and every closed-door board meeting to talk about the good and the bad — then all deserve blame as this situation only worsens. It’s time regents demand higher standards of themselves, befitting an aspiring top-tier Christian university.