By The Editorial Board
Back in September 2021, Gamma Alpha Upsilon, an unofficial LGBTQ+ club at Baylor, decided it would stop seeking a charter from the university after the administration agreed to hold “listening sessions” that could potentially lead to a new Baylor-approved group for these students. Seven months later, there is no end in sight. How long will Baylor make the student body wait for a decision?
The university’s original intention was to come to a consensus by the end of the fall 2021 semester. Yet here we are nearing the end of the spring semester, with radio silence from Baylor on whatever happened to the group. As of January, there was “no specific timeline” for a decision.
Though it is within Baylor’s jurisdiction to deny charters, it isn’t fair for the university to offer a potential solution and not follow through in a timely manner. By dragging out these “listening sessions” and keeping students who do not attend in the dark about any progress made, it seems like the goal wasn’t actually to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, but instead to convince Gamma to stop fighting for a charter with false promises.
Was the plan simply to appease students in hopes that they’d give up? Was it to wait until the students who were bold enough to fight for a place on campus graduated before announcing there wouldn’t be any group at all? Where did the momentum and sense of urgency go?
This isn’t the first time this has happened either. In the spring of 2011, Baylor saw its first push for acceptance of LGBTQ+ students through an organization called the Sexual Identity Forum, which sought a charter. Baylor allowed the group to fight for a charter for a year before denying it one and agreeing to a “Discerning Dialogues Program” where students could gather to discuss hot-topic issues like sexuality on campus. These discussion forums did take place, but no measurable steps were taken as a result of the conversations. Sound familiar?
Now, about a decade later, Baylor’s history with LGBTQ+ groups is repeating itself. Gamma has set its eyes on a charter, been denied and been given a compromise with “listening sessions” where students could discuss with faculty what a potential Baylor-approved organization could be.
From the looks of it, it seems like Baylor is hoping the current demand for a LGBTQ+ friendly organization will fizzle out, just like it did in 2011. We cannot let this happen.
After reaching out to Dr. Sharra Hynes, associate vice president and dean of students in the division of student life, last Wednesday, we found that the administration is still working “closely with the core group of student leaders who are drafting the charter application for our proposed student organization.” Hynes said the next step is to have a review by the charter council that every student organization must go through, although no answer has been given as to when that may happen.
So they’ve been doing the same thing for how many months now? At the very least, the student body deserves to be updated periodically on the status and progress of the listening sessions. We shouldn’t have to reach out to see where the group is at; this should be discussed openly and could easily be included in the weekly updates the university sends out, but it isn’t.
Charter a group, or don’t charter one, but it’s time to make a decision. If there was a charter at the end of all this, LGBTQ+ students who are currently on campus could finally have a place to call their own. And if there isn’t a charter coming, it’s only fair to let them know so they can determine how they want to proceed before it’s too late.
Either way, the student body deserves a decision. We can’t allow the Baylor administration to pacify LGBTQ+ students with a vague promise in order to get them off its back. Just because it has stopped getting heat doesn’t mean the issue isn’t still present and deserving of a timely solution.
It’s time to demand an answer. The LGBTQ+ students who took part in the Sexual Identity Forum of 2011 were denied a charter and placated with the Discerning Dialogues Program, out of which no group was formed and the organization eventually fizzled out. Don’t let history repeat itself with today’s LGBTQ+ students.