The front page of the March 31 edition of the Baylor University student newspaper, The Lariat, featured a photograph of a man dressed as a pregnant nun. The picture was taken at an event on the Texas school’s campus at which the president of the university, Dr. John M. Lilley, was inducted into the NoZe Brotherhood.
The image understandably offended many Catholics, as it ridiculed a vocation that Catholics take very seriously and a commitment that religious women take seriously. Worse, we learned that at a recent meeting with the editors of The Dallas Morning News, Dr. Lilley said the best way to handle things like this was just to laugh it off.
It appears, however, that Baylor administration selectively applies the policy of laughing things off.
Baylor sent e-mail to students in April reminding them that associating with a magazine that goes against Baylor’s mission would be a clear violation of the University’s code of conduct. The letter was a response to Playboy’s attempt to recruit models from Baylor for an upcoming issue of the magazine. Back in 2002, Baylor suspended one of its fraternities after a number of the fraternity’s members posed fully clothed in the magazine.
Additionally, students have complained about photographs they say perpetuate negative black stereotypes. These photographs were taken at an off-campus party held last September and were posted on Facebook.com. Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members attended this party. Dr. Jim Henderson, Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s adviser, was quoted in The Lariat, “What we need to be doing is addressing this issue in a public forum….”
According to Baylor’s Student Policies and Procedures, “Expression that is inappropriate in the setting of Baylor University and in opposition to the Christian ideals which it strives to uphold” is one example of misconduct.
In a letter to Dr. Lilley citing the above statement, Dr. Donohue said, “A male student dressing up as a pregnant nun is certainly not an image of Christian ideals. How can you say it’s best to ‘laugh off’ such an image?”
Donohue ended his letter by citing several comments made by faculty and students objecting to this incident. We are awaiting a response from Dr. Lilley.
Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin is also awaiting a response. He wrote a strong, yet fair, letter to Dr. Lilley.