Dear Baylor students, faculty, and staff, we can do better. As a community, we can do a better job of giving each and every person who arrives on campus an equal opportunity to succeed in their endeavors. How can we truly be a nationally ranked university, and wear that title with pride, when we can’t even outwardly support the LGBTQ+ community with pride? How can we truly call ourselves educated individuals, when there are so many instances of racial discrimination still running rampant under our watch? How can we TRULY say that we “love our neighbors as ourselves” when we shut down disability shuttle services for those who can’t get around campus as easily as us (even if it was only for a week)? This is our chance, Baylor, to do better.
Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, the Baylor community has continually stepped up and spoken out about issues that plague our community revolving around equality and yet, little has been done to change. There is a difference between saying we love someone, and showing it. Last October, for example, the Student Senate voted on a bill that called to Baylor’s administration to re-examine their statement on human sexuality. This bill passed with a two-thirds majority vote and yet, despite the student body showing up and speaking out, our voices have been ignored. To tell our LGBTQ+ students that they are seen, known, and loved, and then to deny them as an official organization on campus is hypocritical and unacceptable.
If the issue above wasn’t enough to show the inequalities many within the Baylor community face, there is also the matter of the attempt to disband the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation’s (OALA) disability shuttle services in early January. In the span of a couple of days, a petition was made, students spoke out, and luckily got the attention of Baylor’s administration. To think that Baylor announced that they were disbanding the OALA shuttle services the same day they announced that the football team was getting new uniforms and got to keep their shuttle service is horrifying. Thankfully, Baylor recognized the mistake they made and reinstated this service. Think about how much change we can make as a community when we come together for a common cause! Not only did this show how much change can be done as a community but it showed how people will speak up about inequality when those who are discriminated against can’t.
Finally, the most recent event brings this all to a head especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement as it further highlights how much discrimination still lives on Baylor’s campus. A couple of days ago, a story came to light about how a security guard came up to a group of black students socializing in Moody library and said “this is not a basketball arena. This is a study area.” After multiple failed attempts by students to educate this security guard on why those comments were racially insensitive and inappropriate, the security guard called Baylor PD. Now, the most horrifying part of all this isn’t the security guard’s comment to these students but his blatant disregard to educate himself. There have been moments where I myself have said insensitive things without knowing that they were offensive to certain groups of people and you can’t blame someone for that. However, I listened, learned, and responded. Meaning, I listened to why a comment would be insensitive, learned from my mistake, and responded appropriately. Even though only a short amount of time has passed since the inciting incident, there has already been an outpouring of support from students and faculty alike for Baylor to correct their actions and do better.
Baylor students, faculty, and staff, not only should we want to educate ourselves and do better, but we HAVE to do better. It’s no longer 1845, we can’t keep acting like these types of discriminating acts are okay. If there’s one thing these events have taught me, it’s that we can always continue educating ourselves. Not just in our classes, but it’s our responsibility as human beings to continue educating ourselves in order to stop discrimination. You say that the minute we step on campus we become part of the Baylor family, but what you’re really saying is the minute a white person walks on campus they enter a family. Let’s open up that circle a bit to include ALL people. Whether you’re black, white, straight, gay, or of any other identity, you should have a place within our Baylor family. Just as Amanda Gorman said in her inaugural poem, “for there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”