Following the ‘Survivors’ Stand’ vigil in honor of sexual assault victims on Monday, president and chancellor Ken Starr released a statement Tuesday titled “Baylor Students: Thank You and We Hear You.”
“Last evening, our students came together as a family. They displayed great poise and maturity during the vigil at Allbritton House and in the prayer service that followed at our beloved Truett Seminary,” Starr said. “We hear your voices loud and clear. You want us to continue to improve. And you want definitive, responsible actions after we receive the insights and recommendations from Pepper Hamilton. You have my word on both.”
The vigil was organized in light of the ongoing investigations carried out by Pepper Hamilton law firm regarding the university’s handling of sexual assault cases. Sexual assault survivors and their sympathizers were invited to attend the vigil.
A printed mission statement of the service was given to those present by volunteers and read: “Because we love Baylor, we hope to show in a visible way, just how much sexual assault affects us, those we hold dear, and our community to peacefully incite change.”
According to the handout, the event’s organizers feel Baylor has mishandled sexual assault cases and failed to offer proper protection to victims with its Title XI policies. The handout mentioned president and chancellor Ken Starr’s multiple efforts to address the issues regarding sexual assault on campus, but regarded them as ineffective.
Irving sophomore Surbhi Todi said she attended the vigil and is proud that she was able to be part of something so important.
“The vigil pushed Baylor administration to take more serious action and promise change,” Todi said. “It goes to show that students standing up together truly can make a difference.”
Stefanie Mundhenk, Baylor graduate and organizer of the vigil, wants more than an apology.
“His statement is demeaning. He is not hearing us loud and clear,” Mundhenk said.
Mundhenk does not feel her questions are being answered. She believes her questions are reasonable and could be easily answered by the Baylor administration.
“I want clear, direct answers to each of those questions,” Mundhenk said. “I would love for Ken Starr to come out and say, ‘You’re right, we didn’t meet the standards we’ve set for ourselves. We have failed our students and we won’t allow it to happen again.’”
Heath freshman Courtney Sosnowski said she is glad President Starr released a statement addressing the vigil. Sosnowski said she admires the participants and organizers of the vigil for their poise and ability to effectively and respectfully stand up for what they believe is right.
“There needs to be more communication between the students and the administration, and I think this is the first step,” Sosnowski said. “It’s sad that it had to come to this. It’s awful that these students weren’t treated right by Baylor, but I believe there will be improvement. I believe Ken Starr will keep his word and he does want to do better.”