The future of Baylor alumni relations depends on how members of the Baylor Alumni Association Transition Agreement vote Saturday. Baylor has started a “Baylor Forward” campaign encouraging members to vote “yes,” but others are hoping for the contrary.
The alumni deserve an independent voice. However, we are not endorsing either a “yes” or “no” vote because we feel that neither adequately accomplishes this.
An independent voice is important for the alumni. In 2008, Baylor President John Lilley proposed changes that would have removed the interlocking BU logo from the Baylor image. It was the roar of independent voices, alumni included, that prevented this from happening.
Our university is doing very well for itself right now, but there is no guarantee that this will continue. Independent voices are part of what helped Baylor stay on course to reach the high plateau upon which it currently sits. The alumni need their independent voice.
If the vote comes through as “yes,” then Baylor will give the alumni representative a spot on the Baylor Board of Regents, which is a movement in the right direction. However this does not go far enough. The problem is two fold.
First of all, the alumni regent would not be allowed to vote and the regents are sworn not to reveal what goes on in the meetings. Without the ability to relay information back to the constituents or the ability to vote, the alumni regent is little more than a nice gesture from Baylor.
Second, the process for selecting the alumni regent is less than democratic.
The alumni-elected Baylor Alumni Advisory Board selects the candidates, but both Baylor and the Baylor Board of Regents make the final selection. If the board chooses, it can kick back all of the candidates. This sort of filter is not fair to the alumni.
The Baylor Line Magazine will undergo changes if the vote turns out to be “yes,” but it would still be given editorial independence. We applaud Baylor for allowing this to happen.
Our only concern is that it will lose strength because it wouldn’t have a group, such as the BAA, backing it. Baylor publishes its own magazine, appropriately titled Baylor Magazine, which serves a similar purpose.
The issue is that Baylor Magazine answers to Baylor administrators and the readers whereas the Baylor Line magazine answers only to its readers. The problem with Baylor Magazine is that the content that readers want and the content that Baylor wishes to publish can be very different.
Baylor Magazine does an excellent job of publishing positive material about Baylor, and there is certainly a place for praise, but an independent watchdog is the best source for news that readers want. Baylor Magazine may try to serve two masters, what the alumni need to know and what the Baylor administrators want to tell them. But Baylor should know that the Gospel of Matthew says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
If something were to happen to the Baylor Line magazine, readers would have to settle for second-best, a magazine that only carries the voice of the administration.
The Lariat cannot support a “no” vote in an attempt to preserve the old independent alumni group, the BAA. Strange bylaws, such as forcing BAA voting members to be present at Waco Hall in order to vote, show that it is not an adequate independent voice. Parties from both sides have hinted at the seemingly inevitable lawsuit that would follow a “no” vote, which is less than favorable.
Neither a “yes” vote nor a “no” vote will accomplish what we believe is the best course of action. What is a voting member of the BAA to do on Saturday? Author Ray Bradbury talked about this sort of voting dilemma in “Fahrenheit 451” when he wrote, “If you want people happy politically, don’t give them two sides of a question to worry about; give them one. Better yet, give them none.”