WACO—Baylor University is in the process of doubling the size of its counseling center’s staff and has trained about 600 employees as campus security authorities, Interim President David Garland reported in a June 29 open letter to the “Baylor Family.”
“We are daily working to ensure that our 16,000 students are safe,” he wrote, noting Baylor now has one of the largest Title IX staffs in the Big 12 conference.
“We are resolved to create a culture of accountability and respect across the entire campus and are refining processes and systems to ensure we respond rapidly and sensitively when students report incidents of interpersonal violence and seek our help,” he stressed.
Garland provided updates on how Baylor is responding to the 105 recommendations from the Pepper Hamilton law firm, which investigated the university’s responses to sexual violence complaints.
“During the last few weeks, after being briefed by the Pepper Hamilton investigators concerning their Findings of Fact and recommendations, I have daily prayed, along with you, for the survivors of sexual assault,” said Garland, professor and former dean of Baylor’s Truett Theological Seminary.
“Their trauma remains foremost in our minds as we strive to be the caring community we are called to be. We yearn for your support as we labor together across all departments on campus to implement improvements to our processes, culture and systems to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual violence and to support those who have experienced such trauma.”
Garland noted he is “providing hands-on guidance” to ensure Baylor’s compliance with Title IX, the Clery Act, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and other state and federal laws.
“However, we need not look to such laws to know the difference between right and wrong,” he wrote. “Scripture sets a far higher standard for how we are to interact with our neighbors out of love.”
Improvements Garland cited included:
- Expanding the Title IX office to include a deputy coordinator for intake, support and case management. Two investigators will be hired soon, and Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford has plans for continued training for all staff. “Attentive, trained and trauma-informed staff members are critical to the university’s work to prevent acts of sexual violence and respond and support students when such acts occur,” he wrote.
- The Baylor Police Department working closely with the Title IX office to develop consistent protocols for timely response, decision-making, follow-up, documentation and investigation, as well as training officers how to respond to sexual violence.
- Filling positions in the counseling center, increasing its size from 10 full-time employees to 20 counselors and staff. “The Baylor Counselor Center has been attentive to removing barriers to care by establishing protocols for immediate assessment and reducing waits for appointments during periods of high demand, limiting fees for additional services and eliminating limits to the number of sessions provided,” Garland reported.
For a compilation of the Baptist Standard’s coverage of Baylor University’s handling of campus sexual violence, click here.