Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Chartered in 1845, the private Christian University is a nationally ranked research institution. Now it is embroiled in a crisis: sexual-assault victims, administrators accused of being indifferent to the issue and athletes who reportedly conducted the assaults. Kenneth Starr, a former U.S. Solicitor General, has resigned as chancellor at Baylor as “a matter of conscience.”
Benjamin Wermund, higher education reporter for the Houston Chronicle, has been covering this story since it broke. He interviewed several communications experts about Baylor’s handling of the crisis. Reputation Communications‘ CEO Shannon Wilkinson recommended more transparency, including participating in the discussion on social media:
The school could do more to go on the offensive online, where the news about the scandal initially broke and where most people are forming — and sharing — their opinions of the situation. It could push its message out more on social media, including via Twitter, where the school has said little about the situation to its more than 68,000 followers. They aren’t addressing the crisis on Twitter, and they need to. They need to have a system to participate in the discussion, otherwise they completely lose control over public perception of how they are managing this.”
An Epic Crisis Facing Higher Education
We have written extensively about the sexual assault crisis at U.S. universities. Here are our most relevant posts, including a recent one about a different type of scandal at UC Davis.
Institutions throughout the U.S. have failed to provide the information and resources that students need to protect themselves from becoming victims of sexual assault on campus…and to appropriately address the crisis when they are. If you would like to learn more about the issue, we recommend viewing The Hunting Ground, a documentary film about institutional cover-ups of campus sexual assaults. CNN premiered it last year.