Our Stand Against Sexual Violence

August 21, 2015

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…

My dear friends in Baylor Nation:

By God’s grace, we are living in a golden era at Baylor University. However, today we are filled with profound sadness. Yesterday, a former student-athlete was convicted for the sexual assault of another former student-athlete. Our hearts are broken for the victim who has been terribly harmed by this unspeakable tragedy. We also grieve for all those who have been touched by this human calamity, and for our beloved University, whose essential purpose and distinctive mission are to be guarded as the treasured legacy of our founders.

Yesterday, as news of the trial’s verdict was announced, we immediately issued a public statement to make clear our solemn commitments:

Acts of sexual violence contradict every value Baylor University upholds as a caring Christian community. In recent years we have joined university efforts nationally to prevent campus violence against women and sexual assault, to actively support survivors of sexual assault with compassion and care, and to take action against perpetrators. We have established and fully staffed a Title IX office that employs a Title IX Coordinator and two full-time investigators. Maintaining a safe and caring community is central to Baylor’s mission and at the heart of our commitment to our students, faculty and staff.

You should know that we were fully prepared to send this statement regardless of the trial’s outcome. Sexual violence of any kind has no place at Baylor University. We do not need a jury verdict to inform a perspective of human dignity that is so germane to our Christian mission.

After consulting with the Baylor Board of Regents, the Executive Council and our academic leadership, this afternoon I called for a comprehensive internal inquiry into the circumstances associated with this case and the conduct of the various offices involved. The inquiry will be led by Jeremy Counseller, Professor of Law at Baylor Law School, Baylor’s Faculty Athletics Representative to the Big 12 Conference and NCAA and a former Assistant District Attorney. Mr. Counseller will engage others in his review as he deems appropriate and will submit his report directly to me at the conclusion of his inquiry. After an analysis of his report, I will determine what additional action to take.

Many of you have expressed your disappointment and anger over this tragic episode. My colleagues and I fully share your outrage. We work tirelessly to provide a distinctly Christian and safe educational experience for our students and to continually advance the good name and high calling of Baylor University. That a student would be grievously harmed and our University’s good name besmirched deeply saddens all who love Baylor and have a care for her, including those of us who are blessed to serve on this campus.

In addition to the work already being undertaken by our Title IX Office, we are doing everything in our power to ensure that acts of sexual violence are not committed and that those who perpetrate them will find no shelter on our campus.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Starr
President and Chancellor