President Livingstone responds to rape allegations

President Livingstone sent an email out to the Baylor community Monday afternoon in response to the rape allegations that occurred at South Russell Hall and Alexander Hall. Photo courtesy of Baylor University.

Sarah Asinof | News Editor

Baylor University President Dr. Linda Livingstone sent a university-wide email Monday afternoon promising students and Baylor families that Baylor takes all allegations of sexual assault firmly. The email was in regard to the three reports of rape that were entered into the Baylor University Police crime log, on Jan 28.

The Lariat reported last week that according to the the crime log which is mandated by the federal Clery Act, the reported rapes allegedly occurred on Dec. 2, Jan. 19, and Jan. 20 at South Russell Residence Hall. The log noted that the incidents are related and involve the same individuals.

There was an alleged rape and dating violence entered into the log on Dec. 12 at Alexander Hall. However, it is not indicated that the incident is related to the incidents at South Russell.

All of the incidents were entered through EthicsPoint, which is an anonymous reporting system for university students.

“We pledge to you that Baylor takes all allegations of sexual assault and interpersonal violence very seriously, has correctly followed its established policies and procedures, and thoroughly assessed every threat to assure the safest environment possible for our students,” President Livingstone wrote. “It’s important to note that the daily crime and fire log consists of reported incidents, which may not have been substantiated or investigated.”

Tonya Hudson, director of media and public relations at Baylor, said the university is honoring the Clery Act. The act is a federal statute requiring colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information. The act is named after Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old student at Lehigh University who was raped and murdered in her residence hall in 1986.

“I want to point out that Baylor like all institutions, public or private, small or large, we all adhere to the requirements of the Clery [Act].” Hudson said. “Even more so at Baylor, we try to honor the spirit of the Clery Act because a woman lost her life. So for us, we definitely want to make sure that we follow the federal guidelines but also honor the spirit of this law.”

Hudson said the Clery Act reporting guidelines just stipulated that these crimes must be reported on the log at least two days and that these incidents have been made known to the institution.

“There might have not been an investigation that is taking place because it’s only been two days or its not substantiated, but we are required to make sure that we have this information reported accurately on our daily crime and fire log.”

Hudson also said Baylor is trying its hardest to make sure students are aware that they have a way of reporting Title IX incidents.

“We have had communications over the last several years where we have tried to do our best that students know that they have a variety ways of that they can report Title IX related incidents.” Hudson said.

Hudson said that Baylor wants to make sure students are aware of their options as well as the numerous ways to report.

“Whether that is online, EthicsPoint, email communication, coming to Title IX, calling, go to the police department or responsible employee or if they want a confidential support through the chaplain if they want to speak to a counselor,” she said.

In Livingstone’s email, she reminded students that if there is a threat to campus, a warning will be sent through BaylorAlert, a system in place to make students and parents know if there is emergency happening on or near campus.

Allen freshman KelsieAnn Trank, who is a resident at South Russell, said her and her hallmates were surprised when they found out about the reports in Baylor’s crime log.

“We were definitely shaken by the fact that it happened were we lived. We were afraid but we were more concerned about the people that were involved and what they went though,” Trank said.

While Trank was worried for her peers, her parents wanted to put her safety as a priority.

“My parents were bothered by it and made sure I was being safe and careful going in and out of the dorm,” she said. “I think they had the same reaction that most people seemed to have of fear and disappointment.”

Trank said she appreciated the email from Livingstone, but wants to see more action taking place.

“The email was somewhat reassuring but it felt more like an apology than much action being taken, though I understand Title IX comes in at a point to handle it,” she said. “It would’ve been more reassuring to have a better update on the situation about how it’s being handled.”