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Sloan addresses students' concerns at 2012 forum

Sept. 24, 2003

By Sandi Villarreal, reporter

Students were given the opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions to Baylor's senior administration at the Baylor 2012 Student Question and Answer Forum Tuesday afternoon in Miller Chapel.

'There have been many concerns regarding the direction of our university,' said Jeff Leach, a Plano junior and student body president. 'The administration has publicly stated that the vision is not set in stone and that it could be changed and altered to better serve all members of the Baylor family.'

The administration members fielding questions were President Robert B. Sloan Jr.; Dr. David L. Jeffrey, provost and vice president for academic affairs; and David Brooks, vice president for finances and administration. Eileen Hulme, vice president for student life, was scheduled to join the discussion but was unable to attend because of a death in the family.

Leach welcomed the administrators, followed by an invocation by John Hill, an Arlington senior and president of the Baylor 2012 Student Development Council.

Sloan, Jeffrey and Brooks each gave a brief speech regarding their position in Baylor 2012, followed by a question-and-answer session in which students from the audience were allowed 30 seconds to ask questions concerning Baylor 2012.

One popular issue of discussion was whether or not hiring within a certain set of parameters, such as religious preference, will create a smaller pool of candidates from which to choose. Jeffrey denied that this was the case and stated that just the opposite was true.

'For Baylor, finding faculty members who are warm about the Christian mission of the university is of essence,' he said. 'Because of our strong stance on our Christian mission, we are attracting people that would have never considered Baylor before.'

Students asked a variety of questions ranging from the topics of tuition hikes, diversity in hiring practices and the faculty tenure system to issues of student diversity, living and learning centers and the status of gays and lesbians on campus.

Darrin Adams, a Pawnee, Okla., senior, asked a question concerning the controversial issue of the status and treatment of gay and lesbian individuals on campus and if there are any plans to improve the situation by 2012.

'Because of our Christian tradition, Baylor has stood in the scriptural mainstream of the church,' Sloan said. 'I do anticipate a community where questions can be asked and people can seek help on moral issues, but I do not anticipate a community where the gay and lesbian movement is equivalent to a racial status or a gender status.'

Adams said he was disappointed with the response but has been and plans to continue following up on the issue.

Other issues were raised regarding flat tuition rate and whether or not the increased rate will affect diversity and the ability for a middle-class family to afford tuition.

'In the past two years, the rate of diversity has raised from 21 percent to over 25 percent despite tuition increases,' Sloan said. 'We believe that is because of the new [flat-rate] tuition structure.'

The flat-rate model encourages students to finish their degrees in four years, Brooks said. 'By raising tuition, we are able to give more scholarships and be more accessible.'

The student government leaders were pleased with the outcome of the student forum.

'I wish there would have been a greater quantity of students, but the quality was great because they had really great questions,' said Casey Watts, an Anson junior and student body external vice president. 'As long as the students know that the opportunity is there to ask their questions and voice their concerns, our goal is accomplished.'

Any further questions concerning Baylor 2012 or the administration members' remarks can be taken to the student government office in the Bill Daniel Student Center. Questions that were submitted but not answered at the forum will be given over to the administration and answered as soon as possible.