Frustrated Texas senators call for transparency from Baylor after rape scandal
March 29, 2017
A Texas Senate panel on Wednesday lambasted Baylor University over its recent sexual assault scandal and pondered taking the dramatic step of requiring the private university to comply with state open records laws.
At a Senate Higher Education Committee hearing, senators peppered Baylor’s interim president, David Garland, with questions about whether the university worked to cover up or failed to properly respond to numerous accusations of rape by football players and other students. Senators also questioned why some people who appeared to be involved in the scandal have been allowed to keep their jobs or administrative titles at the school.
Garland pushed back against those complaints, saying the school is “trying to be transparent.”
“We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor,” he said.
Senators weren’t convinced.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that for a minute,” Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, told Garland, repeating himself for emphasis. “I don’t buy that for a minute. I think that is exactly what was going on.”
Garland had come to the Capitol to testify against a bill filed by Seliger, who chairs the Higher Education Committee. The bill seeks to require any school that receives more than $5 million in Tuition Equalization Grants from the state to comply with state open records and open meetings laws. Only two schools in Texas meet that threshold — Baylor and the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
Seliger said the situation at Baylor “is exactly why this bill was filed.”
But while the open records bill was ostensibly the main focus of the hearing, the conversation soon veered to broader frustrations. Senators asked why the law firm hired to investigate the scandal for the university, Pepper Hamilton, never produced a written report. They asked why the administrator in charge of judicial proceedings at the school — Bethany McCraw — remains in her job, even though her office had failed to take action against numerous male students accused of rape. And they expressed suspicion about whether there had been full transparency regarding the involvement of Baylor’s board of regents in the scandal.