Baylor Would Strongly Prefer You Not Examine Their Records
The university's sexual assault coverup has made Baylor the target of Texas's state senate
Texas legislators have proposed a bill, SB 1092, that would force private colleges and universities that receive $5 million or more in tuition grants to comply with the state’s open records laws. The move is a not-so-subtle condemnation of Baylor’s various accountability dodges during their ongoing sexual assault scandal. Baylor interim president David Garland’s performance at a recent Senate Higher Education hearing demonstrated what makes the bill so needed.
Garland, who came to the hearing to testify against the proposed bill, regularly deflected the questions lobbed at him. He pleaded Baylor’s merits to the committee, asserting that other schools are “quite shocked” at how compliant and transparent Baylor has been. Considering that the day before the hearing, Baylor filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit accusing Baylor football players of 52 sexual assaults between 2011 to 2014, this was a pretty ballsy claim. At best, Garland was dishonest, because there’s nothing more frightening than an educational community that admires how Baylor handles sexual assaults.
The committee was not pleased. “I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that for a minute,” Senator Kel Seliger said to Garland’s continued assertions of Baylor being above reproach. “Maybe you aren’t [covering it up] today, but I think that is exactly what was going on and that’s exactly why this bill has been filed.”
Seliger also said that “absolutely nothing” Garland shared “obviates the need for the bill or for transparency on the part of independent colleges and universities.”
Garland’s other strategy, reiterating his ignorance behind a veneer of plausible deniability, didn’t do him any favors with the various lawmakers. Sen. Royce West asked Garland if any Baylor officials outside the athletics department that wrote off a deeper investigation of the sexual assaults were named in Baylor’s internally conducted investigation. Garland responded that he was on “sabbatical leave” during the process and thus, couldn’t be sure of who was named.
West, chuckling out of sheer disbelief at how little Garland claimed he knew (or how dumb Garland thought he was), spoke for all of us when he threw his hands up and retorted “That’s the whole point of this!”
Sen. Larry Taylor, a Baylor alum, chimed in, “If you still have people around that were part of this problem, I think they need to be cleaned out as well.” He added, “It’d be nice if Baylor sent someone who was actually here at the time and had a part in all this.” Wouldn’t it?
Perhaps the ugliest moment, worse than the ignorance or empty promises that the school had fundamentally changed, was the argument that Baylor officials might have to lower the amount of state grant money they recieve. Funds Baylor has deemed critical for helping lower-income students pay for their tuition. Sen. Kirk Watson was disgusted, telling Garland that he’d be more disappointed with the school if they tried to lower their tuition grants, the ones they stress their students need, just to “avoid what this body would have considered greater transparency.”
“I love Baylor University—a lot,” Watson said, “but I have been extraordinarily disappointed and very sad about all that has gone on, and frankly, in the way in the efforts that Baylor has made or not made to restore confidence in Baylor.”