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Letters to the Editor

Sept. 18, 1996

Lariat makes bad choice in printing letter

I sincerely hope that Ryan Streich's anti-Chelsea letter was just a really bad attempt at satire. No one, Republican or Democrat, with an ounce of intelligence really thinks that Chelsea Clinton should be treated as persona non grata at Baylor.

The real issue is the fact that the Lariat chooses to print the views of people who obviously represent such a small and obtuse minority. It is irresponsible to give a forum for someone with such an obvious lack of critical-thinking capabilities to express their grossly marginalized views. Printing Streich's letter is obviously nothing more than a cheap attempt by the Lariat to generate some kind of public debate.

Going from tabloid to broadsheet was a good format move. Now, all you guys have to work on is making that journalistic integrity shift as well. The sensationalist, Hard Copyesque letters to the editor may provoke heated debate worthy of Rikki Lake, but they do not represent the intellectual level that truly exists at this university. For if Mr. Streich truly represents the new type of student that Baylor is admitting nowadays, then the Baylor diploma now on my wall will soon come down in favor of my 'Dogs Playing Poker' print.

After all, they will soon have comparable value.

Marcus P. Johnson

Graduate student -- History

Letter writer's comments are 'almost laughable'

I think it's a shame someone as ignorant as Ryan Streich has decided to run for an elected position at Baylor. It's unfortunate he has such a closed mind and doesn't attempt to hide his ignorance. If someone symbolizes the discrimination that has been spoken of so much around Baylor, it would have to be him. The comments Ryan makes are all so ignorant I find them almost laughable.

The most ridiculous statement however was, 'I wouldn't be able to handle going to school with that girl.' I certainly hope Chelsea comes to Baylor. If nothing more it will get ignorant people like Ryan Streich off our campus. I also find it interesting that Ryan feels he can speak for the students as a whole.

'You can put the reality of our opinions in the paper'? Whose opinions are these and what world are you living in that has that kind of reality? I've heard of people living in a bubble, but being that sheltered from real life is a shame in itself. I know of no reality where everyone has to be just alike as young Master Streich would want us to be.

Brandon Dean

Information systems '98

University provides venues for discussion of issues

Editor's note: This letter is published here as a service to the Baylor campus. It was submitted to other newspapers for publication.

I write regarding your recent articles concerning President Robert Sloan of Baylor University.

At the time of Dr. Sloan's election, the most commonly heard concern (amid wide applause from nearly all university constituencies) was that he had only limited administrative experience and perhaps would not be sufficiently decisive or able to 'crack the whip' when necessary. To the surprise of doubting minds, he has excelled in doing just that. Like any effective CEO, he has put together his own team and has reemphasized the mission of the institution, including the university's Christian aims and ideals. There undoubtedly are differences of opinion within the university community about issues that touch upon the integration of learning and faith. There are, however, many venues within the university for a continuing full discussion of these issues.

I believe it is unfortunate that those in disagreement with Dr. Sloan on some of his thoughts and actions have resorted to the media to link their concerns to the now tired 'religion issue.' At certain times in the past, matters of faith admittedly have been a flashpoint at Baylor.

The university amended its charter in 1990 to protect its academic integrity against the development of fundamentalism in the Baptist community. Dr. Sloan, a theologian educated at Princeton, in England and in Switzerland, shares with his predecessor, Dr. Herbert Reynolds, a deep conviction about the misdirection of fundamentalism and the necessity of the university to disavow and shield itself from the movement. Also like Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Sloan recognizes that Baylor's market niche -- what distinguishes it from most other major universities -- is its fealty to the belief that the human experience is inseparable from our spiritual dimension.

As Yale Law School professor Stephen Carter has observed, we diminish ourselves to the extent we surrender to our modern day 'culture of disbelief.' Dr. Sloan only aims to assure, as former Baylor President Abner McCall put it, that faculty members support and not merely tolerate the university's legitimate and long proven aims. To this end, faculty hiring policies now, as before, pay heed to whether a candidate has a faith that animates the person's life and actions, as opposed to it being a dead letter label. Through this approach, the university aims to meld a principal commitment to a first-rate academic experience with an effort to assure that its students develop an appreciation of a meaningful and tolerant personal spirituality.

Such an aim requires no apology. Baylor stands for something. Those that perceive 'something more' in Baylor's objectives are right. Specifically, it is a commitment to counter the 'culture of disbelief.' This is one important characteristic that distinguishes Baylor from public institutions.

The concept of academic freedom is central to a sound educational environment, but in this instance, the claims of its infringement are misplaced. This concept protects the intellectual integrity of the classroom, research activities and creative activities.

Unfortunately, some academics trot it out like an old nag to claim privilege in any context, no matter how inapt. It has no more application to hiring faculty members with the expectation that they will be supportive of a school's mission than it does to assuring a faculty member's claim on a parking space.

Only within university venues -- not in the media -- can the real issues involved in this matter be addressed effectively. We are in a time in which institutions must justify and define themselves. No institution can abide by what I believe to be the questionable motivation of some to use the age-old phenomena of religious and academic pot stirring to draw into question good faith and directed leadership. This is especially so when that same leadership invites good faith, properly placed and constructive differences of opinion.

Brad Toben

Dean, Baylor School of Law

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