Work to improve the prevention, response and care for students impacted by sexual violence continues to advance and evolve. Improvements to campus safety began even before the comprehensive Pepper Hamilton investigation was launched.
In spring 2014, Baylor University’s Operations and Facilities Division retained safety and security experts, Margolis Healy & Associates to conduct an organizational assessment of the University’s Police Department and physical security program. The study included an evaluation of all procedures, policies and systems to determine improvements that would ensure a safe and secure campus community while also maintaining an open, inviting and vibrant campus environment. The study resulted in 60 recommendations for improvement, including the creation of the Department of Public Safety in which BUPD, emergency preparedness, technology security, fire safety and parking and transportation would all be combined for better collaboration. The study also pointed to the importance of hiring a full-time, dedicated Title IX Coordinator.
When results of the Margolis Healy study were delivered in August 2014, work began immediately on implementation of recommended improvements. Margolis Healy returned to campus in summer 2016 to review progress and develop additional improvements to ensure full implementation of Pepper Hamilton’s comprehensive recommendations through DPS systems.
The goal of the Pepper Hamilton investigation, launched in August 2015, was to identify areas of concern and address improvements needed in University Title IX processes. The experts of Pepper Hamilton reviewed how processes and systems responded through the lens of reported incidents of sexual assault or dating violence during the academic years 2012-2015. The investigation included a broad audit of reports of sexual assault over the period. Its focus was how various departments and individuals within the University responded to a report — not whether the underlying reported incident had occurred. Pepper Hamilton’s role was to determine if sufficient processes and systems were in place to meet Title IX obligations and properly care for students who came forward to make a report. (To learn more about the independent investigation, see Background section of this site.)
The investigation resulted in the release of Findings of Fact and the adoption of a comprehensive array of Recommendations for Improvement. Implementation began immediately to operationalize the improvements and ensure Baylor University develops an exemplary model of Title IX compliance, awareness and prevention programming, and support for victims of sexual violence.