My birthday passed by, earlier this month. My son was caught up in final exams and couldn’t join us that day, so he came the day after. I love when the five of us are together! What a treat! That lovely evening together at home was punctuated by an "act of God" wind event that stripped our roof of shingles and tar-paper in a couple of areas. The wind was followed by heavy rains, and soon water began leaking through the ceiling in several spots.
That night, I got online and filed a claim against our home insurance policy. The next morning, I contacted roofers and restoration teams. By the end of that day, the restoration team had demolished all the affected ceiling to begin the dehumidification process, and the roofers had a temporary tarp covering our roof.
Unfortunately, the weather has not been kind to many households across the state. Because of the backlog, it took almost two weeks for the adjuster to make it out to our house for an inspection. He made his assessment this past Monday, and "the check is in the mail."
Today is the 19th day since the wind struck. Almost three weeks of ducking through tarp curtains, duct-taped to the walls and ceilings as part of the "de-hu" treatment, just to go from bedroom to kitchen to bathroom. Our couch and our living area are buried beneath a pile of our belongings, moved out of the way of the restoration process. Evidently, this qualifies as "livable conditions" so no hotel stay for us. The ceiling repair begins next Tuesday, but I’m still waiting on "the process" (insurance check -> mortgage company -> roofers) to get on the schedule for the roof job.
Maslow can tell you why this situation rattles me so deeply. Read the story of Job and say, it could be worse. Oh, to be a righteous man like Job. Instead, I feel like Homer Simpson playing Bill Murray’s role in Groundhog Day.
At the same time as all this happened at home, yet another round of ugly rumors and nasty allegations began swirling around my workplace.
The voices of rivals and media and even our own Baylor Nation rose up like angry villagers with torches and pitchforks storming Castle Baylor, demanding the chief warrior’s head on a platter, and oh let’s kill the king while we’re at it! Such vitriol, such rage, such ugly ugly ugly behavior – all in the name of justice. I stood watch on the walls and shouted caution to the angry villagers. Don’t let jealous rivalry drive you to do us harm! Please trust that we are cleaning house! How does this wrong you are doing here right any other wrong!? But my voice was lost in the din. So much rage, rage, rage! I wondered aloud to my fellow soldiers, what are they on about? We comforted each other with reminders that our king was a just king, and our chief warrior a miracle worker amongst these warriors, transforming broken lives into honorable men. Surely these accusations are based on false rumors! Surely our leaders will be vindicated! The truth will out.
Yes, the truth will out.
When the Board of Regents announced their intentions to let go of Briles and Starr (the chief warrior and the king, if you followed my story), it was a gut punch. Why!?!? They did nothing wrong! Go after the actual wrong-doers, and keep these wonderful leaders! At first, I refused to look at the regents’ summary findings. I didn’t want to know. But like witnesses to the Hindenburg, I couldn’t look away from the tragedy. I eventually stood up and stared.
Oh, the humanity.
Our system is fundamentally broken. I still don’t know whether Briles or Starr had direct knowledge of any cover-ups. I still cling to the hope that these accusations prove false. Regardless, they stood watch over an organization that failed to hold these wrongs to an accounting. The regents firmly and forcefully reject this status quo, and will be seeking new leadership to effect this change in direction. It’s taking me a while to come to grips with how deep and how wide our failures are. Not Briles’. Not Starr’s. Mine. Ours. Us. We have failed these women. Not one, not two – many, many, many. Too many.
Instead of addressing difficult situations and bringing remedy to the injured, we turned them away. I hate to hear others accuse Baylor of being blinded by our success. But then my own heart tells me, I am too comfortable in my routine to be bothered with such extraordinary need. Whatever the reason, we failed to stand up. I am condemned by this statement, alone: I am part of "a broader culture and belief by many administrators that sexual violence “doesn’t happen here.”"
I love what Starr has done for this campus, with so many positive effects since his arrival! However, he has fallen under this sword: "Baylor failed to maintain effective oversight and supervision of the Athletics Department as it related to the effective implementation of Title IX."
I stand by my previous statements: Briles is an amazing coach, and a great leader. For his role in turning around the lives of the athletes he’s coached, I will always respect and admire him. But in this role of overseeing Baylor’s football program, he failed. Damnably. "In some instances, the football program dismissed players for unspecified team violations and assisted them in transferring to other schools. As a result, some football coaches and staff abdicated responsibilities under Title IX and Clery; to student welfare; to the health and safety of complainants; and to Baylor’s institutional values." And this. "In some cases, football coaches and staff had inappropriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters or engaged in improper conduct that reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules, and that there was no culture of accountability for misconduct."
Like a windstorm shearing the shingles off the house of Baylor. Like a restoration team coming in to demolish the internal damage. The pall hanging over us is a temporary tarp. It’s a gift, if we allow it. One day, the roofers will come and the house will be fully restored. But until then, it’s a painful journey ahead of us. Don’t miss this opportunity to stop and reflect on where you stand in all of this. It’s on us.
From the summary:
"The University calls on Baylor Nation to pray for healing for the victims of sexual assault at Baylor, for wisdom as to all these matters for all of the leaders, faculty and staff at Baylor, and for each member of the Baylor community to treat one another with dignity and respect as beloved children of God."
Psalm 119 is on my mind. It has some doozies. "Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I obey your word." And another similar thought, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees."
Lord, may the law from your mouth become more precious to us than any athletics trophy. In faithfulness, you have afflicted us. May your unfailing love comfort us, and through us, be a comfort to the least of these.