Lawsuits don’t take bearbucks

Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer

Baylor’s sexual assault scandal began to unfold approximately two years ago and the university, including survivors, are still paying the price. Baylor remains in five active lawsuits and multiple investigations–here’s how much it could cost.

For Baylor students who could be paying as much as $60,908 for the 2017-2018 academic year, some students may be concerned about how Baylor finances unexpected costs associated with the Title IX scandal. Some students joke about owning the flowers on campus, so it’s natural they feel as though they have a few stakes in what is happening in the media and on campus.

In May, Baylor’s Board of Regents approved a $621.7 million operating budget for 2017-2018.

Vice president for marketing and communications and chief marketing officer Jason Cook said Baylor’s budget model “is not designed to track a single tuition dollar to a specific expense.”

“Baylor’s budget is built on a diverse stream of revenues and not tuition only. Universities are built for students who have a wide and diverse set of needs. Here at Baylor, all work together for the greater good,” Cook said.

While it may not be possible to determine how tuition dollars are spent in a linear fashion, Baylor remains in good financial standing according to S&P Global Ratings and a fund the university annually sets aside for unforeseen expenditures.

“As part of the annual budget process, Baylor establishes a contingency reserve for legal and other unexpected expenses. It is important to note there have not been any budgetary impacts across the campus as a result of the events over the past 18 to 24 months,” Baylor said in a Thursday statement.

In August 2017, S&P Global affirmed Baylor’s ‘A+’ long-term rating and determined the outlook for Baylor as “stable.”

“We assessed Baylor’s enterprise profile as strong, characterized by a trend of improving demand metrics, increasing enrollment, and a management team that is diligently implementing recommendations received from attorneys and consultants in relation to Title-IX related compliance matters that occurred from 2012 through 2015,” S&P Global Ratings credit analysts reported.

“In the last fiscal year, nearly two-thirds of budget expenditures were focused directly on students, from instruction (41 percent) to student services (24 percent),” assistant vice president for media relations and crisis communications Lori Fogleman said, citing last year’s financial statement.

Prevention

According to Baylor, $4.3 million have been invested in the Title IX office and sexual assault victim-related services since November 2014. Baylor hired its first full-time Title IX coordinator, Patty Crawford in November of that year.

In an external report released early November, Cozen O’Connor investigators Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie Gomez, who were also commissioned to conduct the Pepper Hamilton investigation, affirmed Baylor had indeed “made significant investments in the Title IX team, both in terms of personnel and funding.”

In the 2016-2017 academic year, Baylor reports a Title IX office budget of $1,179,000. Of the amount budgeted in the 2015-2016 school year, $804,767 was spent by the Title IX office. The amount budgeted for that year was not available on Baylor’s website. In 2014-2015, $219,567 was spent and, according to the website, this number reflects half the year.

Title IX office resources include the expansion of staff to seven fulltime positions, five external professionals and an outside attorney to work directly with the office, according to Baylor’s website.

In addition to staff expansion, nearly $1 million was spent increasing and renovating the Title IX office space by 40 percent. $213, 434 remain in reserve for extra Title IX personnel, according to Baylor.

An additional $900,000 was allocated to Baylor’s Counseling Center and finances “staff increases, office space, survivor programs and trauma-based training,” the website states. 18 new staff positions were added as a result.

Litigation

As lawsuits against the university continue to play out, financial figures can be speculated but may not be accurate.

Jasmin Hernandez and Baylor settled a Title IX lawsuit against the university in the beginning of August. While the terms of settlement remain confidential, Hernandez’s lawyer, Irwin Zalkin, told the Waco Tribune-Herald, “I can’t talk about the terms of the agreement, but I’ll let you guess.”

Often referred to as “Jane Doe 1-10,” the Title IX lawsuit filed by 10 anonymous plaintiffs against Baylor remains one of the most contentious, as the discovery process raises questions concerning student privacy and FERPA.

Baylor spent more than $120,000 in August alone to produce information for plaintiffs, which includes 43,800 pages, the Lariat reported in September.

In the inaugural Conversation Series, President Livingstone said Baylor is trying to work with survivors in a way that resolves and heals. For some that means settlements which the university has agreed to, Livingstone said, or in others the case will go to trial.

Investigation

At the most recent Board of Regents meeting during Homecoming, Baylor regents and President Linda Livingstone announced the university felt confident about SACSCOC’s upcoming accreditation decision in December. After visiting Baylor in October, a special committee from SACSCOC verified the completion of Pepper Hamilton’s 105 Recommendations and found that Baylor “operated with integrity.”

Ongoing investigations include the NCAA, Big 12 Conference, Texas Rangers, and U.S. Department of Education.

At the first Conversation Series, Livingstone said that she hopes the Big 12 will “reach a conclusion that affirms what Baylor has heard from other external audits,” the Lariat reported.

$223

Around this time last year, Bears for Leadership Reform hired Austin law firm HSSK LLC to conduct an analysis of what Baylor’s sexual assault scandal could potentially cost the university. Managing director of HSSK Jared Jordan released a report on Dec. 13, 2016, estimating the scandal could cost Baylor as much as $223 million.

“It is my estimation that the financial impact of the sexual assault crisis at Baylor could be as much or more than $223 million consisting of $121.7 million in costs and $101.3 million in lost revenues through 2019,” Jordan wrote in a summary of the report.

Jordan’s report estimates the costs incurred from September 2015 over the next three years.

The report relied upon information related to Baylor’s sexual assault crisis, settlements with sexual assault victims at other institutions, IRS Form 990s and the child sexual abuse investigation at Pennsylvania State University.

“We are unaware how this estimate was developed, given it is not based on information provided by the University,” Baylor said on Monday. “Baylor continues to be strong and resilient, as evidenced by a solid financial position, healthy endowment, stable fundraising efforts and continued interest by prospective students.”

SHARE
This account was generated by Camayak on 2017-08-20, please refer to http://support.camayak.com/connect-your-camayak-account-to-your-existing-wordpress-account/ if you wish to delete it.