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Armour: Baylor Needs to be Saved From Itself

Baylor's McLane Stadium. By Djyueng - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34045907

Someone please save Baylor from itself.

Five months after a report revealed, in damning fashion, Baylor’s woefully inadequate response to sexual violence on campus, the university is still more concerned with protecting its image than protecting its students. The people in charge have changed, but the culture has not.

“Baylor set me up to fail,” Patty Crawford, who resigned this week as Baylor’s Title IX coordinator, said Wednesday in an interview on CBS This Morning. “The harder I worked, the more resistance I received from senior leadership.”

Crawford has leveled some serious allegations against the university, according to several reports by KWTX in Waco. In a complaint to human resources, KWTX said Crawford alleged she was retaliated against by Senior Vice President and COO Reagan Ramsower, who told her she was “doing her job too well.” The station also obtained an audio recording of a July meeting in which Crawford says she’s stopped telling administrators the names of those involved in Title IX investigations for fear officials would interfere.

Baylor’s response? A statement that painted Crawford as a gold-digger by revealing details of a mediation session — which just happens to violate Texas law, her attorney pointed out.

“(I had to decide), was I going to remain part of the problem, be part of the problem, or was I going to resign?” Crawford told CBS.

Sadly, Crawford’s resignation is not the only example that Baylor has no interest in eradicating rape culture. Two more women joined a Title IX lawsuit against the school this week, alleging that Baylor ignored their claims of sexual assault.

Last week Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor who is now an advocate for awareness, told of being berated by an assistant coach after speaking to the football team.

“(He was) trying to convince me that nothing had happened there,” Tracy told USA TODAY Sports’ Nicole Auerbach, expanding on an op-ed she’d written for the Huffington Post.

“It validated to me that there really was a serious problem here, and there are remnants of the serious problem still there,” Tracy added.

Look no further than Baylor Revolution, a group campaigning for the return of football coach Art Briles, who was fired for his response — or lack thereof — to assault allegations against some of his players. The group is selling “Bring Back CAB” T-shirts and urging a “blackout” for the Nov. 5 game against TCU “to send a loud and clear message” to the university.

Oh, the message is loud and clear, all right.

Baylor Revolution is a fringe group, but it is emboldened by the tone set by the university. Sure, the university made a show of adopting all of the recommendations of the independent investigators who reviewed how Baylor was — or wasn’t — handling sexual assault cases. But it’s what Baylor does going forward that will determine whether there is an actual change of culture at the university.

So far, it’s not doing much of anything.

Whether it’s allowing members of Briles’ staff to stay on, being a tacit accomplice in Briles’ rehabilitation campaign or interfering with Crawford’s efforts to do her job, the university is saying clearly that it doesn’t take sexual violence seriously. If it doesn’t, no one affiliated with Baylor will, either.

Image matters to the folks in charge at Baylor. The safety of their students ought to matter more.

By Nancy Armour

This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

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