A Challenge and Affirmation of Support for Baylor University from Its Students

October 13, 2003

Written by Chris Scott, Jeff Leach and John Hill. Delivered by Student Body President Jeff Leach, Sept. 11, 2003

Students, administration, alumni, faculty and to all who love Baylor University: We stand here today with one central message -- It is now time to move forward with moderation, temperance and control. We, the students of Baylor, gather together here to show support for our school and for the direction in which it is heading. I will not be so bold as to say I stand for the entire student body; I do, however, believe that I can speak for the majority. According to a recent student life survey, over 80 percent of our students support and are happy about Baylor's 10-year plan, Vision 2012.

However, we are not happy with the current climate of political divide and unrest. Today, our message is intended for both those who support the current administration and those who oppose it.

We, the students of Baylor, want to be heard. For too long, our voices have been ignored and today our hope is that people will finally hear from the people who matter most: the students. Although many well-meaning people have attempted to speak on behalf of students, no one knows better what students want than the students themselves. We endorse the 2012 Vision of our University, but also feel that more people, especially our students, need to play a central role in the development of our future.

Baylor, over the past few months, has endured many unfortunate events that have propelled our University into the national spotlight and have made our campus the focal point of much debate. Throughout these debates, the students continue to be overlooked. We can no longer be spectators and observers while our school is publicly slandered and ignorantly mischaracterized. We are an institution that for 158 years has developed students of integrity and faith, while equipping them to reach the highest levels of academic achievement.

Baylor's mission to integrate Christian faith and academic excellence is one that we, the students, support. Dr. Robert Sloan has given Baylor a vehicle -- Vision 2012 -- to advance the Christian and academic character of our University.

We acknowledge the value of balanced debate, debate about goals and the means by which they are executed. But when we call for moderation, we call for a certain tempering of debate so that it does not jeopardize what we all hold in common. We want all to understand that when debates and differences of opinion become unhealthy and disrupt the life of a University, a re-evaluation of priorities is needed.

Baylor 2012 is comprised of core convictions. It is a bold vision that treasures yesterday, gives us strength for today and that gives us faith and hope for tomorrow.

We are proud that our University saw the inadequacies of our existing science and research facilities and indebted itself to provide for us a state-of-the-art structure. We are proud that our University is actively recruiting and adding world-class distinguished and accomplished scholars to an already outstanding faculty of teachers and professors. We are blessed to not only get the chance to study abroad, but to pick from over 100 countries available in which Baylor has established study-abroad programs. Baylor, through this Vision, is establishing and expanding challenging academic programs and is continually constructing facilities to make our undergraduate experiences worthwhile and second to none.

We thank you, Baylor, for listening to your students and concerning yourself with the development of our spiritual and academic life, and we thank the administration and our faculty for their courage and desire to see Baylor in the top tier of American universities.

We call for and challenge our administration to do everything in its power to promote communication and to help bring an end to divisiveness. We believe and trust that with your help, and the assistance of all students, faculty and alumni, a more understanding climate can be fostered.

On this day, September 11, which will forever be remembered and celebrated as a day for unity and a common purpose, we, the student body, call for the entire Baylor family to pause and remember the one thing we all share in common: a love for this place. We are aware that there are many students, alumni and faculty who have serious and legitimate concerns and questions about the direction of our school.

We are not asking that we all agree, but that when we disagree, it is not in a manner that hurts the integrity of our school. I urge us all to be united in defending the legacy and name of Baylor, to handle our grievances with moderation, restraint and civility. Be slow to make radical demands. Be quick to practice patience. Let prudence dictate our actions to preserve our academic legacy and aspirations. Our legacy and the successes of past years are too valuable to put at risk for light and transient causes.

Currently, more forums are being scheduled and planned for alumni and other friends of Baylor to openly voice their opinion face to face with the senior administration.

For the students who wish to express their concerns or have questions answered concerning our 10-year Vision, various student leaders have worked hard to provide you with a Student Forum to address Dr. Sloan, Provost Jeffrey, David Brooks and Dr. Eileen Hulme on Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. in Miller Chapel. I ask that we make use of these effective methods in expressing our concerns and opening lines of communication.

We pray this will bring back the spirit of a unified Baylor and will bring resolution to many unanswered questions.

To my fellow students, keep your heads up. Continue working hard and enjoying the many blessings afforded us through our association with Baylor University. Together, we will weather this storm and prove to ourselves, our parents, our alumni, the media and the world, the leadership that Baylor students can muster when tragedy and misfortunes abound. We are the heart of this institution, and I urge each and every one of you to continue to be the supreme ambassadors of this place we love so much.

We, the student body, have full confidence and faith in both the Vision and the leaders who have brought us to our present state. And faith those leaders will listen and respect the opinions of all.

Today, we ask God to unite our family again. That we all -- students, administration, faculty, alumni and staff -- may be one. Let us be moderate in our dealing with each other. And let us all, through our many diverse talents, opinions and ideas, continue in preserving the greatness that is Baylor University.

Remember this University is not about any one man or Vision. It's about the students. Thank you all for joining us today. May God continue to bless Baylor University. Sic 'em, Bears!