The Truth


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Editor’s Note

I can guess your religion, background and interests

Just kidding. Nobody can tell any of that information just from looking at a person, and from behind this keyboard I don’t even have that advantage. Unless I know you personally, I don’t know a lot about you. You’d say the same about the thousands of people you’ve never met who are also reading this.

But that doesn’t stop people from generalizing about who we are as Baylor students. They look at things such as our tuition, our location in Central Texas and our university’s history and manage to form an idea of what the Baylor student is.

When the Lariat initially met to determine the topic of this special section, it was actually Joshua Madden, a graduate student who did his undergraduate work at Kansas State, who first suggested the topic. It’s interesting that someone new to Baylor would want to find how many students matched preconceived notions . . .

One Student Body, One Faith?
Photo illustration by Chris Derrett | Editor in Chief

I know where I’m going (and why)

Senior year of high school wraps up between a backpack full of memories and a graduation cap. But for seniors, somewhere between taking the SAT and hearing the bassoons in “Pomp and Circumstance,” a package arrived at the door — and a decision had to be made.

For most, a college acceptance letter spawns long hours of thinking, making plans and weighing options. Those seeking higher education may face a buffet of choices that affect their final decision. Some questions: Do I want a big school or a small one? How important is location?

One option includes seeking a faith-based community. Baylor’s commitment to faith drew mixed reactions from those who considered it as a factor in the application process. While it wasn’t a factor for some, others named it as a priority.

May 2011 alumna Aaryka Matte said the Christian community was the primary reason she chose Baylor.

“It was the only school I applied to because of that, just because it was faith-based,” she said.

Other students shared Matte’s sentiments. Plano freshman Lindsay Larimore said she ultimately decided on Baylor because it was . . .

Photo illustration by Chris Derrett | Editor in Chief

No prayers? No problem.

It can be hard fitting in at a university where many of the people you meet believe you’re going to burn in hell.

Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist university, has a diverse student body with a range of religious beliefs. In its mission statement, the university outlines its goal to integrate “academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.”

While Baylor works to ensure that students of all beliefs are treated equally, atheists and agnostics are a minority on campus.

Only 43 out of 14,900 students identified themselves as atheists, according to a fall 2010 report prepared by the Office of Institutional Research and Testing.

A further 371 students identified as having “No Religion” and 18 did not wish to identify. Baptists had the strongest showing at 5,287, followed by Catholics at 2,128.

For some atheists, it is the religious student culture, not the institution, that is the greatest challenge. At a school with so many students of faith, it’s almost impossible to avoid religious conversations and — especially for non-religious students — questions.

“I do feel like sometimes it’s harder for me” . . .

Source: Baylor Institutional Research and Testing

Baptist or Catholic? None of the above

When meeting fellow Baylor students, the question “Where do you go to church?” often comes up as frequently as questions about hometowns and majors.

Situated in the southern “Bible Belt” region and having historical Baptist roots, Christian beliefs at Baylor are a core component of life at college for many students.

More than 5,000 Baptist students attend Baylor, with Catholicism and non-denominational Christianity accounting for more than 4,000 students, according to Baylor’s Office of Institutional Research and Testing 2010 facts.

A small religious minority of about 400 also exists within the student body, which includes students who practice Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Islam and Judaism, among others.

Sugar Land junior Nevin Shah, a Jain, was initially concerned about coming to Baylor . . .

Doing it the Baylor way
Ben Herndon
Photos by Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

Go Greek. Or Don’t. Either Way.

Greek life is a large part of the Baylor student’s experience. According to the department of student activities, 25 percent of Baylor students participate in Greek life. With more than 40 different sororities and fraternities to choose from, students are free to find a group that they relate to best. The rest of the student body interacts regularly with this community through the countless activities the different groups put on, whether the events are for service or entertainment.

Despite all of the opportunities that come with Greek life, many Baylor students refrain from joining. San Antonio junior David Dernier and Waco junior Ben Herndon have chosen not to join a fraternity even though both received invitations from friends to join. The two were asked for their thoughts on Greek life and why they decided not to get involved with it.

Q: What are the reasons you do not want to be involved with Greek Life?

Dernier: I don’t feel the need to pay to have friends.

Herndon: I work 2 to 11 p.m. five days a week, so I don’t really have time. Plus I wouldn’t make it through all the pledge hazing thanks to my headstrong smart mouth. That and the dues are ridiculous. I don’t need to pay for friends, I have those, and they prank me all the time for free. . . .

From left: Ashley Fletcher, Ashley Adams, Libby Zoldak, Kendall Lovett and Krista Stephens stand outside Moody Memorial Library in clothing female students can characteristically be found wearing on campus.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

Baylor fashion is awesome and original! O-M-G!

Nike shorts are everywhere. We get it. That fashion faux pas has been around for years and everyone has made their comment. Sperrys, V-necks and leggings under Nike shorts can even be dismissed as a part of Baylor fashion that has not run its trend out just yet. But can the XXL T-shirts, side pony tails and cankle-covering socks have their time in the limelight critique?

Within the past few weeks, campus has gained momentum with this curious trend. The tall socks, reaching about mid-calf, take the “I don’t care look” to a new level of cool with a ’70s twist . . .

Participants in Steppin’ Out prepare to work on a blind widow’s house on Oct. 29. Steppin’ Out is one of several events and organizations at Baylor that allows students to volunteer in the community.
Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer

Students burst ‘Baylor Bubble’ … others stay in

Baylor has more than 15 official student organizations dedicated specifically to service, numerous fraternities and sororities that require members to volunteer, and various other opportunities for students to get out into the community and lend a helping hand. However, not all students choose to actively volunteer in the community . . .

During Baylor’s 2011 Homecoming Extravaganza celebration on Nov. 4, 2011, students of the class of 2013 participate in the “Cupid Shuffle” at Fountain Mall before the bonfire and pep rally.
Makenzie Mason | Round Up Photo Editor

Traces of 151-year-long ban no longer affect students

With people doing the Bernie, Dougie and learning how to wobble, it might be hard to believe that the Baylor dance ban was lifted only 15 years ago.

Because of the close ties between Baylor and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, dancing was viewed as a sin.

But this assumption wasn’t made on the grounds of the music engulfing the atmosphere or the types of dancing that could ensue.

“What happened was, all the things around drinking came to be thought of as sinful,” Dr. Burt Burleson, university chaplain, said . . .

Pre-Med, Pre-Paid
Photo illustration by Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

Pre-Med students predominate freshman class

When others hear of students going to Baylor, the first question asked is often, “Are you going to be a doctor?” But what many fail to realize is that the university has much more to offer and Baylor students go into a variety of fields besides pre-med.

About 1,200 students come into Baylor each year designated pre-med, but only around 200 apply to medical school in their junior year, Linda Haynes, program manager of pre-health studies, said . . .

Photo illustration By Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

Scholarship requirements send many students packing

Of 3,259 first-time freshmen who set foot on campus in the fall 2010 semester, 476 opted not to return for their sophomore year, according to Baylor’s Office of Institutional Research and Testing. While some assume students leave because their scholarship packages fail to keep up with rising tuition costs, data compiled by the office of the provost indicate people leave for a variety of reasons, some of which supersede or exacerbate financial difficulties.

In an effort to analyze the most effective ways to boost student retention rates, the university has been working to isolate significant variables that might affect a student’s decision to return, said Dr. Sinda Vanderpool, assistant vice provost for enrollment management.

“We actually did logistical regression where you basically compare like students to each other and see which individual factors rise to the top,” Vanderpool said. “We never found that finances were a single factor that rises to the top when you’re doing logistical modeling. That was surprising to all of us” . . .

The Baylor Relationship
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

From Pat Neff bells to wedding bells

Life can be drastically different at Baylor depending on your relationship status.

Being single or being married can mean different stages of life, but it also adds to the variety and diversity that makes up the Baylor student body.

The “ring by spring” mentality can sometimes have a negative connotation, but many women on campus have learned to deal with the “MRS degree” stereotype.

Elizabethtown, Pa., senior Katie Nilsen Johnson came far from her home of Pennsylvania to attend Baylor with the plan that she would not date during school, much less get engaged.

After a break-up her senior year of high school . . .

Photo illustration by Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

LGBTQ students search for a home at Baylor

Some students feel that the standard of equality and normalcy at Baylor stops at sexual orientation.

Adam Short, a homosexual Baylor student, had a slow beginning to his college career.

“Initially, I was really, really, really, lonely. It was hard to not really have anyone to talk to,” he said. “I felt forced into isolation.”

Short, a Fort Collins, Colo., sophomore, is one of a number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students at Baylor.

While his personal experience at Baylor has been largely positive, he said he believes the biggest issue Baylor has in conjunction with the LGBTQ students is isolation. He said a lack of acknowledgement from the university has caused incoming students . . .

Photo illustration By Meagan Downing | Photographer

Cyberspace holds relationships together, no matter the distance

With the help of modern technology, many student relationships are held together across long distances with date nights being replaced by phone calls or Skype sessions.

For some Baylor students, a Skype date is the only way they can see their significant other every day . . .