To those who were selling and buying #CAB shirts at last Saturday’s football game against TCU. To those who believe Art Briles should have never been fired. To those who mourn our football team’s recent descent and claim the allegations surrounding Briles’ coaching, his athletic program and his release are unjust. To those who believe we should bring Briles back: What are you doing? More precisely, what are you thinking?
Have you taken a moment to think past your anger with Baylor’s response to the Pepper Hamilton investigation and your frustration with our football team’s statistics to examine how your actions might look to the survivors? Have you considered how allying yourself with a coach whose actions might have condoned, or at least done little to prevent, sexual assault will feel to those who lived it?
Yes, we don’t know all the facts just yet. We don’t know exactly how much of a part Art Briles played in the coverups, and we certainly shouldn’t operate under a “guilty until proven innocent” ideology, but in rallying to bring back Briles, you’re disregarding what the survivors experienced. You’re choosing to ignore the allegations, and you’re choosing to prioritize a winning football team over the lives of actual students, your fellow Baylor Bears.
Maybe the heart of the issue is not Briles’ firing. Maybe you’re wearing the shirts in an attempt to show that you are frustrated with the way Baylor has handled the sexual assaults, the lawsuits and the subsequent media attention. We all wish that things had been handled differently, or that sexual assault and Title IX compliance had never been an issue at Baylor in the first place, but there are better ways to show your dissatisfaction than #CAB. There are ways to speak up that still give respect and weight to the survivors’ stories. There are ways to speak up that can actually make a difference.
I think we need to remember that we, the general student body, are not the victims here. Take a step back and gain some perspective. Bridle your feelings of injustice, of manipulation, for a moment and remember Baylor is more than sports and media attention. Do we love having a winning football team? Absolutely. But shouldn’t we be more upset about the sexual assaults than the loss of a winning football coach? In the heat of the moment, when we’re down 20 or 30 points against one of our longtime rivals, it’s easy to lose sight of our priorities, but now more than ever, we need to band together in support of the survivors. Show your support for your fellow student body, not for a coach who, in Mack Rhoades’ own words, will “No, never” return to Baylor.
By all means, please speak out, but draw attention to things that matter, and find a way to do so that isn’t insensitive. Speak out against Baylor’s handling of Title IX cases. Speak out against the Board’s hesitancy to reveal the truth in its entirety. Speak out against the people who see Baylor as only a set of football statistics. But in doing so, also remember to show compassion for the survivors.
#CAB supporters: Get your priorities straight. Your voices, your actions, can make a difference, and you should use this opportunity to effect change where it matters most.