Update From Interim Baylor President David Garland

Nov. 7, 2008

Interim Baylor University President David E. Garland sent the following update to all Baylor students, faculty and staff about the continuing efforts to address the incidents that occurred Nov. 4 on the Baylor campus:

Dear Baylor community,

I wanted to provide you an update related to our ongoing investigation of the events that were reported on the Baylor campus Tuesday evening.

We are grateful to a number of students who have come forward with information pertaining to the rope that was found on campus Wednesday morning. Baylor police are now in possession of the rope, which appears to have been about 10 feet in length with a crude knot forming a loop at the end. Police are continuing their investigation and invite anyone with information about the origin of the rope to contact them at 710-2222.

Our police department has been able to identify a number of students who participated in the post-election disturbance outside Penland Hall. Our officers will be speaking with those involved and expect to make referrals to the university's department of judicial affairs.

Contrary to some initial reports, police have not been able to produce any solid evidence that Obama/Biden campaign signs were burned in the barbecue pit adjacent to Brooks Flats. Investigators have learned that what were originally reported to be Obama/Biden campaign signs were actually empty computer boxes. Officers are continuing to look into the matter.

There have been no additional incidents reported to campus authorities. Any rumors to the contrary are absolutely false.

While we are investigating the events of this week, we also are thinking about what we can do to prevent any such actions from occurring in the future.

We are advancing a variety of new initiatives to continue to foster open and honest discussion on our campus. The "Frankly Speaking" weekly dialogue that is scheduled for 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, will focus on the events of this week. The meeting will be held in the Fentress Room on the second floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center.

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, in Waco Hall, our chapel services at 9 and 11 a.m. will include a presentation from our Bias Motivated Incident Support Team (BMIST). The BMIST program, which has been in development since the spring and which is being launched this semester, creates a safe and confidential environment in which students can report incidents and receive assistance in finding ways to address them.

Also on Wednesday, Nov. 12, we will host a prayer rally for unity on our campus. The rally is open to the entire Baylor community and will be held at 4 p.m. in Miller Chapel.

Many faculty also have taken the opportunity this week to discuss the issues of civility, tolerance and respect in their classrooms.

We expect other events to be announced in the coming days as we have further opportunities to meet with students, faculty and staff to discuss how we should best approach questions of diversity on our campus.

As I have said previously, racist acts of any kind will not be tolerated at Baylor. The evidence we have obtained suggests that a small number of individuals on our campus were responsible for the events of Tuesday evening.

As I have spoken with students privately and listened to their public comments, I know that they share our profound sense of anger over this entire situation. They resent that the irresponsible actions of a few have left a stain on the university of which they are so proud.

A resolution by Baylor's Student Senate, passed on Thursday, Nov. 6, said, "The students of Baylor University strongly and unanimously disapprove and denounce the acts that were performed by certain individuals on the night of Tuesday, November 4, 2008."

These incidents do not reflect accurately the faith, values and community of Baylor University.

We have been intentional in our progress toward enriching the racial and ethnic fabric of our university. Recently, we were pleased to report that our incoming class was the most diverse in Baylor history. We will continue our efforts to recruit a highly diverse student body. And we remain committed to providing an environment in which diversity is encouraged, welcomed and engaged constructively.

The incidents on our campus Tuesday night remind us that as far as we have come as a nation and as a community, we have work yet to do. We must remain vigilant in our pursuit of our high Christian ideals and we must recognize that such pursuit is at the very core of all that we believe about Baylor University.

Click here for the university's Nov. 5 statement.

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