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Baylor University Commission Suggests Changing Ties Linked To Slavery

 A statue of Judge R.E.B. Baylor sits on Founder’s Plaza at Baylor University in Waco.
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A statue of Judge R.E.B. Baylor sits on Founder’s Plaza at Baylor University in Waco.

A commission tasked with examining Baylor University’s historical connections to slavery and racism recommends changing the names of some campus buildings and relocating some statues, but giving a pass to the school’s slave-owning founder, according to a report released by the school’s board of regents.

The board commissioned the study last June when it passed a unanimous resolution acknowledging Baylor’s connection to slavery. It accepted the commission’s report at its meeting last month and charged university leaders with developing an action plan based on the recommendations.

The board’s chair, Mark Rountree, wrote in a letter to the university community Tuesday that the board is committed to presenting a more complete history of the university but “will continue to recognize Judge R.E.B. Baylor for the founding of Baylor University,” the Texas Tribune reported.

The report’s authors said that if a statue of Judge Baylor won’t be taken down, the inscription on it — “he exemplified in his life the motto of Baylor University Pro Ecclesia/Pro Texana” — should be changed, since the current one implies an acceptance of his past as a slave owner.

The report also recommends renaming several campus buildings, removing other statues, and even relocating university bells, which were used to mark slaves’ workdays.

“At the end of the day, they’re all recommendations,” said Sam Onilenla, a junior at Baylor who has been pushing for racial equality measures on campus. “It’s about implementing those recommendations that we’re going to have to see.”