David Garland—interim president at Baylor prior to the university’s hiring of Linda Livingstone—sent an email to a school administrator in which he wrote that a radio segment he listened to recently “added another perspective for me of what is going on in the heads of some women who may seem willingly to make themselves victims.” The referenced segment was an NPR interview with Sarah Hepola, who wrote a book about drinking, blacking out, and quitting drinking.
The email was entered into the public purview by the lawyers for 10 women who are suing the school for failing to monitor or properly address dozens of sexual assault reports that have since mired Baylor in lawsuits and repeated cases of their employees being complete and total assholes. While a number of other women have opted to settle their lawsuits against the university, the legal team for the 10 Jane Does has continued to pursue the case—one that the school is none too enthused to be part of. The women’s lawyers filed a motion on Wednesday asking the judge to compel Baylor to turn over all relevant electronically stored information (emails and texts sent from university accounts and devices) as the university and its lawyers had been dragging their feet to delay future depositions from being taken.
Garland’s email was one of several in an exchange with Kevin Jackson, the school’s vice president for student life, who asserted that “I can think of no one I would rather be journeying with as we seek healing and restoration than you” and agreed with Garland’s assessment of the segment. Garland quoted the New Testament book of Romans, specifically addressing 1:18-3:31, written by Paul and concerning the state of human sin and God’s subsequent wrath for all those who turn away from him. The Baylor president went on to compare Romans to the Pepper Hamilton report—the one the school has failed to share with the public; the one university leaders specifically did not request full paper copies for, claiming it would have been expensive. It seems fairly clear now that Baylor officials declined to do so not because of an opportune moment to save the environment or cut costs, but to cover their asses.
If you ask damn near anyone at the school, including a great many of those that either were or still are in power—multiple university presidents, football coaches, athletic directors, boosters, women’s basketball coach—they’ll tell you there’s no reason for ass-covering in the first place. If anything, Garland’s email is just another depressing and maddening reminder that Baylor is an institution made of the people it willingly chooses to pay top-dollar to bring in; when they react like this and blame the women they failed to protect, it’s not because they’re bad apples or got caught with their foot in their mouth—it’s because that’s exactly what the leaders at this university pay them to do.
Baylor declined to comment on the email. Garland is currently on sabbatical; he’ll be back to teach at the university in August. You can read Garland and Jackson’s full email exchange below.