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EDITORIAL: Baylor should lead national change on campus rape

October 10, 2016 GMT

Texans might think that last week’s embarrassment would serve as a wakeup call for Baylor University and the rape scandal that upended the football program, but they’ve thought that before. This is not the first time that many people - including Baylor grads - are imploring the university to finally learn from this scandal and do whatever is necessary to move forward.

Unfortunately, too many Baylor officials are still acting as if this sordid tale is not a big deal - and implying that critics should stop bothering them about it.

Previously, Baylor tried to keep the athletic director who oversaw the program, and it is still refusing to release the full report by the law firm that reviewed the charges. Now the school’s Title IX coordinator has resigned and said top campus leaders undermined her efforts to investigate the sexual assault claims, being more concerned with protecting the Baylor “brand” than the students.

Patty Crawford said last week that the university set her up “to fail from the beginning” and that she received “resistance” from senior leadership in her efforts to right the ship.

It would be scandalous if this foot-dragging were happening at any major American university. The fact that it’s occurring at a respected Baptist institution with high ethical standards is unacceptable.

Once this scandal was uncovered, Baylor’s leadership should have been determined to punish anyone who committed rape or covered up that crime. The focus should have been on helping victims instead of coddling perpetrators. It should have been emphasized that the football team was secondary to the university’s mission of creating outstanding citizens.

Sadly, that hasn’t happened. But at long last, Baylor’s leaders must get their priorities straight.

In fact, Baylor has the background to serve as a national model for responding to these kinds of scandals.

Campus rape, whether in fraternities or football teams, is all too common in American colleges. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and schools like Baylor can show how to change the culture and restore the sense of safety that all students should enjoy.

Some university has to lead this change, and there’s no reason that can’t be Baylor.