“Mr. Beaman is a respected member of our board.”
That was the response Belmont gave after Board of Trust member Lee Beaman was accused of sexually and emotionally abusing his wife.
“No comment, except that Mr. Beaman is a respected member of our board.”
The list of allegations against Beaman filed in court documents was lengthy — from having sexual relationships with prostitutes, to watching pornography in the same room as his children, to threatening bodily harm to his wife.
And while these are only allegations, what does Belmont’s response say?
It says that wealthy board members are held to different standards than students, faculty and staff.
After the story broke, the university said nothing for four days, leaving students to wonder what the consequences would be for the man whose family name is etched over the student center.
Would Beaman be impeached from the board? Would he step down? Would Belmont continue to ignore the problem publicly and push it under the rug?
Ultimately the university released a statement saying Beaman asked to take a temporary leave of absence from the board until “his family dispute is resolved.”
And while Belmont is legally within its rights to allow him to step down, the university should have suspended him pending an investigation.
What Belmont did goes against every value the university claims to stand for, every value the university expects its students, faculty and staff to abide by.
Consider this from the Belmont University Bylaws: “As a community seeking to uphold Christian standards of morality, ethics and conduct, Belmont University holds high expectations of each person who chooses to join the community.”
Let’s break that down a little bit. The bylaws state that each member of our community should live up to the university’s high expectations by upholding Christian standards of morality, ethics and conduct.
The Bruin Guide’s Code of Conduct goes further into what those standards really look like by outlining the values students, faculty and staff should abide by.
Let’s take a look at what those values are.
First, individual worth. “The Belmont community is committed to the dignity and worth of every individual, recognizing that each person is unique and possesses both rights and responsibilities.”
The guide explains that physical abuse, threats, coercion and “other conduct that threatens or endangers the welfare, dignity or worth of any person” violate individual worth.
Remember, Beaman is accused of sexually abusing his wife.
As students, we’re supposed to value personal integrity, which the guide claims is “the foundation of University life and the cornerstone of a premier educational experience.”
Remember those allegations again.
The university also says it is “committed to self-control and to individuals’ accountability for the effects their behaviors have on themselves and others.”
Again, think of what Beaman is accused of.
Did he really show self-control if he slept with prostitutes?
Is he really being held accountable if Belmont allows him to quietly step down from the board?
The university says it’s committed to “the pursuit of truth and the communication of knowledge.” We are an institution of higher learning after all.
But is Belmont pursuing the truth by investigating the allegations against Beaman?
We don’t know, because the university isn’t saying.
And if Belmont continues to say almost nothing other than “Mr. Beaman is a respected member of our board,” that tells us that values matter — unless you have power and a whole lot of money.