Lariat Letters: Parking column was misinformed

I want to thank the Lariat’s Rob Bradfield for his well-written opinion piece in yesterday’s paper. While it was principally composed of misinformation, unfounded accusations and the sort of tinfoil hat theories generally reserved for Dan Brown novels, it does raise questions about some important issues.

Let me begin by clarifying Baylor’s intentions with respect to the development of a “truly residential campus.” Both internal and national studies indicate that students in a residential university setting have greater satisfaction with their education, higher GPAs, and better retention rates.

Looking beyond the so-called “Baylor Bubble,” the top 10 schools in the nation boast an average campus residency rate of 86 percent. Take the top 20 schools and the number remains almost 80 percent. Given such an obvious correlation between performance and residency, why shouldn’t Baylor strive to expand its residential offerings?

I would also like set the record straight regarding the Student Court. Mr. Bradfield is correct in his assertion that the members of the Court, justices and clerks alike, are appointed rather than elected. He is wrong, however, in his claim that this fact somehow renders the court corrupt. I strongly doubt that Mr. Bradfield would accuse Judge Starr — to whom he addressed his grievances — of having served on a “kangaroo court” simply because he was appointed to the bench rather than elected. I see no reason that he should cast such aspersions upon the Student Court because of the constitutionally mandated appointment procedure that we follow.

Furthermore, Bradfield blatantly misrepresented the court’s appeal procedure. We are bound, and properly so, by the Student Body Constitution. As such, appellants are never “presumed guilty.” Furthermore, and contrary to Bradfield’s allegations, there is an absolute guarantee that the Student Court will review any appeal that is properly presented.

When the court receives completed appeals from Parking and Transportation Services, the clerk will email appellants with specific information, including the time and location of their hearing. We offer students a two-hour window in which to present their case, and we do not schedule more students than we can hear in a given sitting. We do this to accommodate frenetic student schedules, but if a student chooses not to appear personally before the court we still render a decision based on their written appeal.

Of course, Bradfield is correct when he claims that parking on campus has become a challenge. I join with him in his call for Baylor to develop its transportation infrastructure and to better coordinate transportation needs with the Waco community, particularly as we move closer to becoming a truly residential campus. While efforts to that effect are already under way, the parking problem deserves greater attention and increased student involvement. This is a complex issue — one that requires the cooperation of a number of constituencies.

One final note: Rob, if you are wrongly cited by parking services in the future, I encourage you to take advantage of your right to appeal. The Student Court will carefully review your case, as we would any other, without bias. However, I humbly suggest that you avoid opening your testimony with, “I knowingly park illegally.”

Christian Latham is a senior economics and political science major from Magnolia. He serves as Chief Justice of the Student Court.