The Baylor University scandal has taken the higher education community in the US by storm. Ken Starr, who acted as chancellor until recently, was accused of dismissing and covering up a series of sexual assaults by the football team over many years.
For a while, the university denied the allegations and did nothing. It was only when public pressure grew that they responded by asking for the resignation of Ken Starr. He will continue to teach in the legal department and there was no mention of the scandal in a special resignation ad, though.
The largest Baptist university in the US has received a battered reputation, but it isn’t too late to turn things around. The university has taken the negative feedback to heart, but if it moves quickly it can save itself.
Burying its Head in the Sand
How Baylor reacted to the scandal is a fine example of how not to react to negative press in this day and age. Instead of addressing the problem directly, they decided to simply dismiss the allegations and carry on with business as usual.
This may have worked twenty years ago, but with social media being so well-used a reputation can spread fast. As the university learned, pretending that nothing had happened only served to intensify the pressure. When that pressure became too much, the chancellor resigned.
Unfortunately, criticism is growing again because they didn’t fire him and he continues to teach in the legal department. If Baylor wants to fix its reputation, it has to address the allegations and demonstrate that they are taking them seriously. Allowing Baylor to walk away from his lucrative position AND remain with the university makes a mockery of the victims.
What About the Damage that Has Been Done?
There’s no doubt that one look at Baylor on Google will reveal a slew of negative results. These negative reviews will linger for a long time to come without any letup. The damage that has already been done cannot be rectified, but through hiring a team of online reputation consultants they can help themselves to move on.
People misunderstand the way the online reputation management industry works. They don’t have the power to completely remove the search results from Google. Anyone who wants to dig will be able to find out more about this scandal.
What they do is promote positive content. Baylor should employ these professionals so they can begin moving on from the scandal by focusing on the positives the university has to offer. Over time, this positive content will come to dominate the search engines and social media. That’s how you protect your online reputation to the best of your ability, not by continuing to hold your ground.
Does It Need to Address the Victims?
These stories haven’t concentrated on the victims who were affected by the football program or the handling of allegations during Starr’s tenure. Unsurprisingly, the people involved were not named to protect their privacy. But the university has a duty to reach out to these victims.
Despite the university being a higher education institution, its students are its clients. And 88% of people say that what they say online is as powerful as a personal recommendation. They need to be treated as they would by any business. What they have to say matters and if they have a problem it should be treated with the utmost seriousness.
To repair its online reputation, it needs to put out a call to all victims and their allegations should be investigated. Regardless of whether these allegations turn out to be true, they have at least tried their best to try to salvage the situation.
And the big benefit is that they can then use this positive content to improve their online reputation. Whomever takes over for Starr and the other teachers who were removed from their posts, they have to demonstrate that Baylor has turned a corner.
Conclusion – It Will Take Time
The problem is that it will take time to actually see any differences as the university struggles with the scandal. People won’t forget what has happened here for a long time, and they shouldn’t. The only way that changes can be made is by acting now and acting fast.
Baylor should employ the help of online reputation experts to help improve their online reputations. Through employing professionals to help them with this scandal, they can begin repairing the damage that has been caused.
What do you think Baylor should do to make this situation right?