Baylor University is in the news this week, and not for anything they actually did. That’s the way PR can work sometimes. Have an association with someone who screws up, and you end up in the headline. That’s why you have to keep a proactive PR team in place to protect your brand … even when you, specifically, didn’t do anything wrong.
So, why is Baylor on the bad side of the news? Apparently, former interim university president David Garland wrote some things that upset a lot of people.
In a court filing, it was revealed Garland offered some “unorthodox” views on sexual assault on college campuses. Now, these days, it should go without saying that anyone who works at a university should be very careful when speaking on the topic of sexual assault. But, Garland didn’t get that memo.
In an email exchange with a current Baylor administrator, Garland expounded on his views relative to women who are victims of campus rape. Referencing an interview with a woman who admitted her alcoholism at college, Garland said: “…(the interview) added another perspective for me of what is going on in the heads of some women who may seem willingly to make themselves victims…”
Garland went on to speak about “God’s wrath” on those who commit sexual sin. That part, at least, should not be considered out of place at a Baptist university. But it’s the first part that has people upset. Among those folks is a team of attorneys who represent ten women who are suing Baylor for “ignoring their allegations” of sexual assault.
The plaintiffs got ahold of Garland’s email, and they are using it to support their case, arguing that Garland “would conclude that these young women made themselves willing victims of sexual assault…” becoming recipients of “God’s wrath upon them…”
That may seem a stretch, but Garland’s email is certainly a boon for the plaintiffs’ case. They were arguing the school ignored them, and now they have a former administrator on record. And, they say, he’s not alone in his views. The attorneys for the plaintiffs argue Garland’s views are shared by many other administrators.
Among those with this view is attorney Jim Dunnam, who told a local paper: “It reflects an attitude at the top of the university, which, frankly anyone who loves Baylor should be disgusted by…”
And that, right there, is the gauntlet tossed at the feet of the university administration. They are being painted with the same brush as their former leader, and they will be called to respond to these allegations … even if they didn’t invite it.