Baylor message to parents regarding Chapel speaker

(Baylor University photo/file)

Thank you for sharing your (and/or your student’s) thoughts regarding Wednesday’s Chapel speaker.

At Baylor, we strive to be both a marketplace of ideas and a place where the love of Christ is extended toward others. When students encounter individuals with whom they disagree, we challenge them to look first and foremost for what they have in common with the other person, before focusing solely on what may divide us.

In Chapel, as with all Student Life experiences, we strive to meet students where they are and then walk alongside them in the journey of becoming more and more the person God has created them to be. Every Chapel speaker works with us ahead of time on what message they will be sharing, but on occasion, a speaker may veer away from our understanding of the message they planned to convey. When this happens, we address the matter with our Chapel students and invite them to come talk to us after Chapel.

We can choose to see instances as problems -- or as learning opportunities. Last fall, I initiated a campus-wide Conversation Series on civil discourse, an area of significant need today in politics, our communities, church congregations, on the Baylor campus, and beyond. Civil discourse requires mutual respect and objectivity without hostility, while demonstrating an appreciation for the experiences of others even if they do not align with our own personal or institutional values or perspectives.

We are still working with staff to understand what occurred Wednesday so that we are in a better position to learn from it and respond appropriately. Receiving feedback is an important part of this process, so I again thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter. Our University Chaplain, Dr. Burt Burleson, is also collecting feedback. Dr. Burleson and Dr. Kevin Jackson, our Vice President for Student Life, work closely together, and I can assure you that we take very seriously our responsibilities for creating the best learning and spiritually formative environments possible for our students.