You recently announced that you will not be releasing past minutes from your quarterly meetings. Individuals such as John Eddie Williams, a Baylor donor and member of the Bears for Leadership Reform, have criticized this decision. Sure, you will release future minutes, but that’s not enough. We join with alumni and former regents such as Drayton McLane to call for complete transparency.
For a governing body that has been under such national scrutiny for its lack of transparency, one would think this would be an opportunity to exonerate yourselves. There are sure to be some of you who are fighting for transparency from the inside — and we implore you to continue doing so — but when it comes down to the wire, it seems to be difficult for the group as a whole to deliver. Notable examples of a lack of transparency are the details of the Pepper Hamilton report and the non-disclosure of former head football coach Art Briles’ knowledge of sexual assault cases.
To your credit, as the Baylor community and other interested parties have pressed you for more information, you have recently conceded, announcing that you cannot release the findings of the Pepper Hamilton report because the report was given orally and finally giving details about Briles’ knowledge of sexual assault cases. And sure, you did recently create “The Truth” site, renamed “The Facts.” Through this site, you have revealed more information regarding the scandal than the span of the Pepper Hamilton investigation and the months that followed, combined.
Yet while the site has been an effective medium to inform the public of the sexual assault scandal, there still seems to be places where pertinent questions are dodged. For example, in a Q&A recently posted on the site, one of the questions asks why it took administration so long to release information from the Pepper Hamilton report. But the response simply acknowledges that people were upset and doesn’t address the question.
Part of the response said, “The longer the University remained silent, the more others continued to tell our story. One-sided and misleading narratives began filling the void. These narratives promoted conspiracy theories and a fundamental misunderstanding of who Baylor is.”
You have also frequently referenced the need to maintain privacy for victims of sexual assault, yet news organizations across the country have revealed more information than we have ever gotten from you – all the while keeping the identity of the victims anonymous. There’s a difference between privacy and secrecy. Seeing that Baylor is the source of the scandal, it should be the first to release information — not news organizations.
As you said in the Q&A, narratives are forming that are contrary to the true identity of Baylor. You have already admitted your share of the blame and a need for transparency. In the same Q&A posted on the site, you said, “But there is no doubt that, as the Pepper Hamilton investigation makes clear, everyone in a Baylor leadership role shares responsibility for the way Baylor mishandled reports of sexual violence and support for victims. For that, the Regents acknowledge their fair share of blame.”
Since you have acknowledged this, use this time as an opportunity to release past minutes in order to speak against those false narratives. Acknowledging the failure doesn’t go very far if your actions don’t back up your words.
Many of you hold positions of leadership outside of Baylor. You are CEOs and business owners. Just as you would listen to your business clients if they complained of issues with your product, shouldn’t you do the same for your Baylor family? Let us be more clear, dear board: We are unhappy with your product. The Baylor family has asked for transparency, but we have to wait for other organizations to break the news for us. We want better.
The truth of the matter is, many Baylor students, faculty and alumni are still proud of their university – just as many of you are still proud, as well. Because we are deeply invested in Baylor, it hurts that much more to watch our leadership continue to ignore our pleas. Because we desire for Baylor to succeed, we continue to ask for complete transparency. The sooner that happens, the quicker the healing process can begin for everyone.