Thursday, June 02, 2016

Baylor University: Good and Evil

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A rape scandal has shaken Baylor University---the world's largest Baptist university---resulting in President Ken Star being demoted, and the head football coach Art Briles, being suspended.

To be sure, it's a horrible situation.

However, good is rising from the evil that happened on campus.

Last fall, Baylor University's Board of Regents hired outside counsel Pepper Hamilton, LLP (Pepper) to conduct an independent and external review of the school's institutional response to "Title IX and related compliance issues regarding reports of rape and assault including those made against 5 of the university's football players."

Two of those players have been convicted and sentenced. Tevin Elliot is currently serving 20 years for his conviction. Sam Ukwuachu has also been convicted.

Last Thursday, the findings of the Pepper review were released.

It's bad.

Pepper's findings show a fundamental failure by Baylor to "implement Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972." Pepper found that Baylor's responses were slow, ad hoc and hindered by top level administration.

The private college did not follow through on complaints, and in at least one case the school showed retaliation against a complaint for reporting sexual assault.

Investigators also blamed leaders in Baylor's football program and Athletics Department leadership for failing to "identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player, to take action in response to reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, and to take action in response to dating violence."

President Ken Star, well known for his role in the Bill Clinton impeachment proceedings, told the Waco Tribune that he was not aware of any of it at the time. When he became aware he immediately took action.

He said, "I applaud the Board for its transparency. It must be known, however, that I was not privy to any of the allegations regarding interpersonal violence until the fall of 2015, at which time I immediately launched an internal investigation before recommending to the board an independent external investigation, which the Board then commissioned with Pepper Hamilton."

He has been demoted to Chancellor.

Head football coach Art Briles has been suspended.

This is certainly a bad mark on what has been an outstanding University founded by Christians.

Baylor, as most all colleges and universities in America, was founded by committed, dedicated Christians.

Robert E.B. Baylor, James Huckins and William Milton Tryon organized an education society in the Republic of Texas in 1841 for the purpose of establishing a Baptist university. It was chartered in the Republic of Texas on February 1, 1845 and was opened in 1846.

Now, 170 years later, Baylor continues to carry a strong mission statement and commitment to its founding principles and beliefs. Baylor maintains a strong commitment to biblical Christianity. Read the link.

However, as with many colleges and universities, cultural pressures--- the need to compete both academically and in athletics---can begin to reshape the character and identity of any institution. So can a far Left progressive government that pressures colleges and universities toward a secular progressive worldview and identity.

The history of Harvard, Yale, Princeton and many, if not most, of the first 126 colleges in America is a history of moving away from their respective Christian founding principles and purposes.

Pastor John Harvard, founder of America's first college, would not recognize nor approve of the Harvard that bears his name today. The same can be said of most of the others.

All have been "remade" into something the founders never envisioned.

This matter with Baylor, however, is different.

Rather than take cover, blaming the government, the culture, our changing times, etc., etc., they have taken responsibility.

An example for all of us.

After these reports were given to the Board and then made public, the Board demonstrated transparency---something in short supply in today's culture.

Then the Board said this publicly:

"The role of training, education and engagement of the entire Baylor community is vital to the successful transformation of our campus culture. A renewed emphasis on our faith commitment will permeate the work we do in this area over the coming months and years."

Through these very challenging circumstances, they are recommitting and rededicating themselves to their Christian identity.

Good is rising from evil.

This is what Paul wrote about when he instructed us to be "transformed" rather than "conformed."

God bless the leadership at Baylor.