President and Chancellor Ken Starr addressed Title IX and allegations of mishandling of sexual assault cases at Baylor in an email Wednesday night to students.
Sunday night ESPN released its “Outside the Lines” report, which talked about the Tevin Elliott case. Elliott is a forme Baylor football player who was convicted of two counts of sexual assault in 2014. In the video, three additional women talked about how the university handled their sexual assault cases.
The email discussed the independent review, a response to the ESPN report, why the university could not say more in the report and Title IX education and training.
Starr wrote that the university could not provide more information on specific cases because of federal student privacy laws. He also said that any comment would tarnish the integrity of the ongoing investigation into the sexual assault cases by Pepper Hamilton law firm.
“This information is protected by federal student-privacy laws which prevent universities, including Baylor, from speaking publicly about particular incidents,” Starr wrote. “In addition out of deference to the integrity of the ongoing review by Pepper, any observations about policies and practices would be premature”
Starr wrote that the ongoing review allows Baylor to be self-aware and know where its strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to responding to acts of sexual violence. Starr wrote that his heart went out to the survivors of the crimes and such crimes have no place at Baylor and are not consistent with Baylor’s Christian values.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the tremendous courage these women demonstrated by coming forward to share their experiences,” Starr said, “and to continue to raise consciousness and awareness about these critical issues. Their voices are important, and their perspectives help to inform positive steps to enhance campus responses.”
Starr wrote that every member of Baylor’s campus was provided with the opportunity to attend Title IX training. In the fall, student leaders, incoming freshmen, transfer students, all varsity athletes and student organizations were given extensive training. He wrote that faculty and staff also received training in how to identify and report misconduct and how to help students.
“Title IX was shoved down our throats,” said San Diego, Calif., freshman Maddie Murray.
Murray is a former track team member whose new student experience class last semester was all athletes and discussed Title IX extensively. She said the class encouraged them to take advantage of Title IX but she never knew of anyone using it.
“I keep getting emails saying we care, we care,” 2015 Baylor graduate Stefanie Mundhenk said. “Their actions do not follow their words. He is not spending time to actually address the issue. He is not writing an email to me actually trying to address the issue.”
Joel Polvado, Old-River-Winfree sophomore, said he feels he has received the same email several times this year. After watching the ESPN report and reading Starr’s email, Polvado is still left with questions, such as why were the students in the ESPN video were ignored and why they felt unsafe.
“Baylor knows we have messed up,” Polvado said. “I think they are trying to remedy that, but there are still questions that need to be answered.”
Starr’s e-mail included information about the Title IX office and where students should go if they need help. The Title IX office is located in Clifton Robinson Tower in suite 285 and makes sure students have access to academic accommodations, counseling, residence modifications, no contact orders and other protective measures. Starr wrote that students can contact Patty Crawford, Title IX coordinator, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (254) 710-8454.
“This is not what Baylor stands for,” said Lakewood, Calif., freshman Nathan O’Toole. “I hope in the future Baylor proves that as a Christian university they do care about and love their students and will do the right thing.”