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T-shirts, buttons show BU support

Sept. 11, 2003

By Caressa Lattimore, reporter

At the first two football games of the season and the Bill Cosby rally, student volunteers passed out bumper stickers, T-shirts and buttons expressing support for the university, its regents and President Robert B. Sloan Jr.

Friends of Baylor, an organization that started the first week of classes this year to support the university, recruited Baylor students from fraternities and sororities to help with what the group's president, Clifton Robinson, chairman and CEO of National Lloyds Insurance Company, called the 'tremendous undertaking.'

Robinson said the free gifts at the games and the rally are intended to be an ongoing proposition, which, for the rest of the football season, will be handed out to anyone who 'wants to show their support to a great university.'

Todd Copeland, director of operations and editor for the alumni magazine, The Baylor Line, said the buttons, T-shirts and bumper stickers may have a more complex meaning behind them.

'Why did they say anything more than just 'I support Baylor?'' Copeland said. 'If you go beyond that, then you have a purpose for it. It becomes political. They become campaign buttons.'

Robinson said the only reason Friends of Baylor decided to hand out the support buttons was because it was time people came out and said something positive about the university.

'We love Baylor University, and we love the Board of Regents, President Sloan, the faculty and students,' Robinson said. 'It was time we came out and said something positive.'

Copeland said even if people in the Waco community don't have all of the information about the controversies surrounding Baylor, they will accept the gifts as a way to show their support for the university.

'I think that most people in Waco will welcome those buttons because it's been such a hard summer,' Copeland said. 'I can understand how people in the community would want to wear T-shirts or buttons or bumper stickers to help project a positive image of Baylor. The university needs to have people rally around it.'

Randy Lofgren, associate vice president of Alumni Services, agreed with Copeland stressing the importance of allowing every side in a conflict the chance to be heard.

'I don't know who the majority is,' Lofgren said. 'But the people who are silent need to speak because then it gives a more balanced view about the situation. But when a university is in any kind of adversity, it's particularly important for people who have an encouraging voice to be heard. I think it's a really good thing for the university when that happens.'

Robinson said that phones 'have been ringing off the wall,' and that he's seen 'an enormous amount of support pouring in.' He said the Friends of Baylor hired two public relations firms to make sure their message is made clear and that 'something positive' continues to be heard.

'You can expect to see a lot more,' Robinson said. 'We ordered 200,000 T-shirts and have passed out 10,000. You will continue to see us around.'