This morning we talked with Lori Fogleman, Director of Media Communications for Baylor University, about a series of public social media images that were posted on the public Facebook and Instagram profiles of Baylor student Hannah Ray. These public images show five young women dressed in sombreros, sarapes, mustaches, displaying "Green Card" signs, wearing what appears to be black shoe polish on their faces, and scaling a "border fence." The pictures were public images available on both social networking sites, before they were taken down last Friday night.
Fogleman confirmed to us that Ray is a student at Baylor, and also said that Baylor has "no idea where these images came from, or where the party was held."
In addition, Fogleman added the following:
Without hesitation, Baylor is an academic community that does not and would not tolerate racism on our campus. If there is an offensive act on our campus and it's brought to our attention, we have established numerous processes for people to report anonymously issues of any kind. So if brought to our attention, then those alleged incidents are thoroughly investigated by the university.
Fogleman told us that she did not know if this specific story was reported through the processes that Baylor has implemented, and did reiterate that "if there is an offensive act that occurs on our campus and it is brought to our attention, through these mechanisms, then we do thoroughly investigate."
Located in Waco, Texas, Baylor is a private Christian university founded by Texas Baptists and charted by the Republic of Texas in 1845. It is a nationally recognized academic institution and one of Texas' most revered colleges. According to some reports, the university has had other isolated incidents surrounding race and ethnicity in the past few years.
Fogleman also added that the Baylor community is growing more and more diverse each year, and it is something that the Baylor community celebrates.
"Our student body this past semester was the most diverse in our history, and it continues to increase. Our minority enrollment is over 33%. Our Hispanic is up to 13% of our total student body, and it continues to rise, especially as Texas' demographics do. We fervently believe that a diverse campus community adds immeasurably to the richness of the conversation among our students."
Baylor's website includes two statements that echo what Fogleman shared with us. These statements and other information are shared with all students. One statement is the university's Statement on Multiculturalism:
Baylor University recognizes the changing demographics of our nation and how those changes will directly affect our University community. Therefore, Baylor is committed to a policy of inclusiveness, understanding, and acceptance of all regardless of race or ethnicity. Consistent with this statement, Baylor will continually strive to challenge and educate all members of the University community through cultural awareness programs and by precept and example.
The other is a statement about the General Expectations of Baylor Students:
Baylor University is controlled by a Board of Regents, operated within the Christian-oriented aims and ideals of Baptists, and affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, a cooperative association of autonomous Texas Baptist churches. It is expected that each Baylor student will conduct himself or herself in accordance with Christian principles as commonly perceived by Texas Baptists. Personal misconduct either on or off the campus by anyone connected with Baylor detracts from the Christian witness Baylor strives to present to the world and hinders full accomplishment of the mission of the University.
"We're so committed to enriching the fabric of our university," Fogleman said. "Our student body continues to change and we are the better for it."