Last night Baylor students and community members gathered on campus to host a vigil in response to what event organizers called a failure on the university’s part to take appropriate action against rape.
Outside the Allbritton House – home to Baylor chancellor and president Ken Starr – nearly 200 hundred people gathered to support Stefanie Mundhenk and victims of sexual violence. Early last week, Mundhenk posted a blog entry titled “I Was Raped at Baylor and This is My Story”.
In the post, Mundhenk alleges that another student raped her during her senior year. After she reported the case – to Baylor’s Title IX office, to the university’s human resources department and to campus police, she says officials failed to take appropriate actions against the accused students. In her case, she added, there was a systematic failure on every level to provide support and justice.
“I can’t say that happens for every case but I can say from my experience in talking with other sexual assault survivors and things like that, I would say it happens far more than is portrayed in the media," Mundhenk said. "You know, it’s not just, my rapist was not a football player. It’s not just the high-profile cases, there are a lot of us."
Mundhenk met with Starr in December, to talk about her case. But she says she wasn't looking for him to review it.
“My case is closed, and I told him that. When I went into his office, I said, I don’t want him to review my case. Justice is not, it’s already over," Mundhenk said. "I’m left to pick up the pieces of my life, but there are a million other girls out there who deserve justice so we really need to get this thing fixed.”
Event organizers point to the policies outlined in Baylor's Title IX compliance documents as the problem, calling them “inconsistently followed, and, at times, ignored altogether.”
This weekend, Starr released a statement saying “sexual violence emphatically has no place whatsoever at Baylor University.” He added, that the University’s procedures to address such situations have evolved, noting the hiring of Patty Crawford, Baylor’s Title IX coordinator. Crawford oversees investigations and resolutions of matters like sexual violence.
At the vigil, Mundhenk addressed a crowd:
“Baylor’s education statement says it promises to provide a safe and assault-free education environment and that’s where I think Baylor has failed. But I would be remised in saying that it’s only Baylor that had failed, it’s not; colleges across the nation fail to address this issue."
One Baylor alum has written “An Open Letter to Baylor University on Sexual Assault”. The letter – which had 1500 signatures showing support by Monday night – calls for “significant improvement” on how the university handles complaints of sexual assault.