Sentiments of the university’s mishandling of multiple sexual assault cases involving students inspired one woman to action.
The Friday following a vigil held for sexual assault survivors, Waterloo, Iowa, senior Kate McGuire created a Facebook page called BU Students Against Sexual Violence.
McGuire said she has not been assaulted at Baylor, but wanted to advocate on behalf of assault survivors that she knows.
“Once more cases became public, I thought the group could help us talk about it,” McGuire said.
McGuire hopes that as more students and faculty demonstrate interest in the organization, the group can begin engaging in dialogue with the administration to advocate for change.
Thursday evening, the group held a small meeting in the Bill Daniel Student Center for those interested in working toward improving the university’s response to sexual assault survivors and creating a campus culture that allows discussion for the sensitive topics of sexuality and rape.
Abilene junior Rebecca Farrar, another member of the group, said she felt the Baptist values of the university were part of the problem because they stifled conversation that could help sexual assault survivors.
“I understand that there are values and traditions that Baylor, as a Christian university, adheres to in order to be an exclusive private university, but at the same time certain practices perpetuate a culture of uncomfortablilty,” Farrar said. “The result is a culture that ignores those who suffer one of the most degrading acts a human can do to another.”
Both McGuire and Farrar said they were pleased with the policy changes mentioned in the letter released Friday by Baylor’s administration.
The letter promised that the university would increase funding and space for the counseling center and mandate Title IX training for upperclassmen, faculty and staff.
“It’s a sign that the administration is actually trying to help and they are not going to continue to dismiss what we’ve been saying,” McGuire, who said she has been turned away from counseling services before.
McGuire added that although she was pleased with the letter, it was only the beginning of a long list of changes she hopes come to fruition.
“We want them to stay on top of what we are demanding,” McGuire said.
In addition to weekly meetings, the group plans to host demonstrations that raise awareness about the malignant problem of sexual assault at Baylor.
“My major goal is providing some awareness and education for prospective students who are coming in to this part of their lives so they are not blindsighted, especially women,” Farrar said.
While university cooperation with students is important, Farrar believes that independent student action is also necessary.