Baylor University Names Task Forces to Address Sexual Violence Prevention and Response
WACO, TX – Baylor University has actively launched groups to lead the implementation of recommendations made by Pepper Hamilton, LLP, following its independent investigation into the university’s handling of sexual assault. Two complementary executive-level task forces have been named to efficiently implement change that leads to improved processes, communication, training and response and that cultivates a culture of respect and character that reflects Baylor’s mission.
The Sexual Assault Task Force, led by Dr. Reagan Ramsower, senior vice president and chief operating officer, will build on improvements to the university response to sexual violence made in recent years and will act promptly to address Pepper Hamilton's recommendations in the areas of Title IX protocols and policies, athletics, engagement and education, centralized reporting and resolution, public safety and counseling and advocacy, as well as other areas across the University. This task force will be supported by members of Baylor’s faculty, staff, student body and administration.
The Spiritual Life and Character Formation Task Force, led by Dr. L. Gregory Jones, executive vice president and provost, will focus on spiritual life and the cultivation of character across the university and will provide long-term strategic direction for the renewed focus on the distinctive mission of the University. This task force will be supported by members of Baylor’s faculty, staff and administration and will include student representatives as well.
“We have adopted Pepper Hamilton’s recommendations as mandates,” says Dr. David Garland, interim president of Baylor University. “We are activating immediately to assess and begin implementation of the recommendations to ensure progress toward the safety and well-being of all our students. Student safety demands our commitment and concentration.”
Pepper Hamilton provided the University with 105 recommendations focused on improving Baylor’s prevention and response to sexual violence. During the course of Pepper Hamilton’s investigation, Baylor worked to make real-time improvements and has already made progress in a number of areas, including:
- Committing infrastructure and resources for effective Title IX implementation, including adding three new staff positions within the Title IX Office and adopting case management systems to facilitate connection of students and support services;
- Mandating annual Title IX training for faculty, staff, administration, contractors, part-time staff, coaches and students;
- Allocating increased resources and staff within the Counseling Center and dedicating quality space to expanding the Center;
- Funding continuing education for all campus professionals on trauma-informed practices;
- Adding officers to Baylor’s Department of Public Safety and consolidating campus security under the Baylor University Police Department;
- Sharing the findings of the investigation with authorities, including the NCAA; and
- Extending and broadening the “It’s On Us” campaign to reach all students, faculty and staff with information about how to report an incident of sexual violence, each person’s responsibility to Title IX and understanding the range of resources and support available when needed.
The additional recommendations, which represent larger efforts across the university, will be part of the Sexual Assault Task Force’s ongoing efforts. The Task Force and implementation groups are currently reviewing existing policies, identifying additional ways to engage students, faculty and staff and developing a consistent, centralized system for preventing and responding to sexual violence. The Task Forces will assess best practices across other universities, implement more complex recommendations by Pepper Hamilton and continue advancing Baylor along a path of improvement.
“We have enlisted the support of individuals with passion and dedication for creating a solid, steadfast foundation for Baylor,” Ramsower says. “The Pepper Hamilton findings and recommendations are being supported with immediate recommendations from survivors on where we can improve our processes.”
Supporting both Task Forces are several implementation groups composed of members of Baylor's faculty, staff and administration who share responsibility for identified areas and the holistic well being of students in the campus community.
The Task Forces will provide regular updates on progress to the Baylor community. Periodic announcements to students, faculty and staff will chronicle the work of the Task Forces and implementation groups. Additional information and progress may be found at www.baylor.edu/rtsv/taskforce.