Baylor should match Big 12 fine with donations

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

The Big 12 recently fined Baylor $2 million by for “reputational damage” to the conference as the result of Baylor’s sexual assault scandal. Baylor is also under investigation by the NCAA, the Department of Education and the Texas Rangers.

The Big 12 is not the party that has suffered damages due to Baylor’s gross mishandling and cover-up of sexual assault on campus. Victims of sexual misconduct here at Baylor have suffered in a tangible, life-altering way.

We ask that Baylor match any fines it pays with donations to organizations that aid sexual assault survivors. No one can make Baylor do this, but we are asking Baylor to go above and beyond, to be a leader and set an example for what fundamental, institutional change looks like.

Baylor was given 105 recommendations at the conclusion of an independent investigation into Baylor’s handling of sexual assault cases. Baylor has since completed the recommendations and points to that completion as the remedy to the scandal. While this is a good thing, completing the recommendations is not something Baylor should be praised for; it is simply what they were always supposed to be doing. Baylor has now reached the bare minimum, the legal standard for protecting students’ human rights. It should not get a pat on the back for finally living up to the standard.

Baylor, we are asking you to put your money where your mouth is, and apologize to sexual assault victims in unprecedented, tangible, shocking ways.

There are so many great organizations that Baylor could donate to. Right here in Waco, the Advocacy Center offers a variety of resources to survivors of many kinds of abuse. It also offers a Crisis Intervention Hotline – immediate 24/7 responses through the crisis hotline for children and adult survivors of violence. Sexual assault survivors from Baylor and the Waco area seek help from The Advocacy Center. The Advocacy Center would be a great place for Baylor to donate to in efforts to match its fine by going above and beyond.

The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault is based out of Austin and is a statewide coalition of rape crisis centers, advocates and survivors. Its website describes it as “committed to fostering a culture that respects the fundamental rights and dignity of all Texans.” Sexual assault survivors in Texas would benefit greatly from Baylor’s donation to TAASA.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN’s national sexual assault hotline (800.656.HOPE) has helped more than 2.5 million survivors. RAINN offers specialized counseling to survivors of sexual assault and abuse, promotes sexual assault education and awareness programs and advocates for public policy to help survivors. Baylor could provide crucial financial support for these important services and programs by donating to RAINN.

There are hundreds of other organizations in Texas and nationwide that would be able to continue and further their great work with donations from Baylor.

Baylor, and the Big 12, should worry less about “reputational damage” and more about the actual damage Baylor’s mishandlings of sexual assault cases has caused in the lives of real people.