Dear Baylor Board of Regents,
We understand you will be gathering soon for your February executive meeting. The Lariat wishes you safe travels and wisdom as you review the recommendations put forth by the Governance Review Task Force on Jan. 16.
We were troubled, however, to find that among the recommendations for changes to the “Special Selection Process,” every non-voting member of the board would be granted voting rights except for the two student regents.
In light of the recently released document regarding alleged texts from former head football coach Art Briles, which detailed instances where students’ concerns were largely ignored, now is the time more than ever for students to get the chance to speak.
Now is the time — especially after months of learning the full extent of the sexual assault scandal from the media rather than from their own governing body. In a letter from Board of Regents Chair Ron Murff, the task force was assigned to “identify further improvements to Baylor University governance.” Because you are seeking improvement, you should allow students to help shape the future of Baylor University – an institution who’s mission statement is to “educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service.”
Now is the time — and it will serve as an opportunity for the board to prove it truly has the university’s best interests at heart. As stated in the task force document, “The Board has the ultimate responsibility to promote the University’s mission, protect its values and traditions, and ensure its viability, health, and welfare.” If the viability and welfare of Baylor defines the board, then a disenfranchised student body makes the university unviable and unwell.
Now is the time — considering you are provided the recommendation to allow faculty-elected regents and two athletic interest group regents to have a say in the direction of the university. If you wish to increase the diversity of those involved in decision making, include the student regents, who have particular interest in the university. We implore you consider the student regents’ ability to vote, as they serve as representatives for all students’ interests. Though such actions may be unprecedented, Interim University President David Garland has stated that the university has “taken unprecedented actions” to resolving the scandal, as stated on the school’s website dedicated to informing the public about the scandal — appropriately titled “The Facts.”
But the facts are that we are weary, as everyone on the board is likely weary. From when ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” gave the first glimpse of the depth of the sexual assault scandal to the most recent lawsuit which estimated the number of rapes within the football program to be 52. To say the least, we have all been submersed with bad news about our university.
The board functions as the governing body of Baylor. And as a governing body, the decisions you make have consequences. In good faith, each of you were elevated to such an esteemed position in certainty that you would strive to make Baylor better. In that striving, we hope you would consider the students’ place at the table.
Spring is approaching fast. The weather is warmer, and a large portion of students are emerging from the winter doldrums to get ready for graduation. These students have high aspirations for their futures: to be doctors, social workers, artists and entrepreneurs. Maybe some of you remember that sensation – that excitement of life beyond college, which you can feel in the warmth of spring air. What better way to send off this graduating class than with the certainty that their university cares about them, like many of you hoped someone cared about you. The time is now – imagine what would happen if you took a chance.