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Letter to the Editor: No need for Rice to save face

By Timothy Howell     9/21/16 8:49am

To the Editor:

I am writing to state my viewpoint of the Marching Owl Band show on Friday, Sept. 16. I feel that the MOB did absolutely nothing wrong, and the administration should not have issued the statement that it did.

The MOB did not make a “rape joke.” The MOB did not mock the victims of sexual assault at Baylor University. The MOB did not mock sexual assault at all. What the MOB did was satirize the individual Baylor officials who were aware of the sexual assaults, did nothing to stop the assaults and showed no respect to or empathy for the young women who were the true victims. This is an important distinction that has been missed by many people and members of the media.

Former Baylor head coach Art Briles was in the stands watching the game Friday night. I know Rice has minimal control over who obtains tickets for the game, but this shows extremely poor judgment on the part of Mr. Briles. Even worse, I understand that Baylor fans applauded Mr. Briles.

The statement issued by Rice University ends by stating, “It is apparent from the comments of many spectators and Baylor fans that the MOB’s effort may have gone too far.” The Rice administration has based its response on the reaction of Baylor fans. These are the same fans showing support for Mr. Briles, despite his heinous actions — or lack of action. In essence, Rice University is also showing support for Mr. Briles and making him out as a victim. This is totally incorrect. The young women who were assaulted at Baylor are the victims — Mr. Briles and Mr. Starr deserve no respect or compassion at all.

Rice University prides itself on teaching young people to be creative and open-minded, not to follow the path of least resistance. By making the statement that it did, the Rice administration has not upheld these principles. Rather, the administration has responded to knee-jerk reactions by media and Baylor fans with its own knee-jerk reaction.

There was no need for Rice to try to “save face.” The MOB did nothing to be ashamed of. The MOB did nothing that needed an apology. The MOB used satire to bring more attention to an awful situation that has unfortunately fallen from the public eye. The Rice administration could have shown support for the sexual assault victims and for the MOB. The administration could have done nothing. Instead, the Rice University administration chose the worst course of action by issuing an unnecessary apology.

I plan to be at all the home football games this year. I will continue to fully support the MOB. I hope the Rice University administration can find a way to do the same.

Timothy Howell

Hanszen College ’92, ’94

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