Playboy bares schools' souls
SMU won't fight photo shoot, but Baylor is more clothes-minded
Saturday, October 21, 2006
By MICHAEL E. YOUNG / The Dallas Morning News
Separated by 100 miles of interstate, the Southern Baptists' Baylor University and the United Methodists' SMU seem even farther apart when it comes to students posing in states of undress in a men's magazine.
Southern Methodist University's approach is decidedly hands-off.
When Playboy magazine photographers set up temporary shop next week near SMU for a "Girls of Conference USA" pictorial, they'll do so without university opposition.
"SMU is not a participant in or a proponent of this project, which is sponsored by an off-campus publication," said Kent Best, director of media and communications, in a prepared statement. "Any student's decision to participate is strictly between that student individually and the publication."
Playboy "will not be on campus," Mr. Best added. "It's an individual student's decision" whether to pose.
Not so at Baylor.
When Playboy ran a photo of four bikini-clad coeds and much of the membership of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity four years ago for a "Girls of the Big 12" spread, Baylor's administration quickly responded.
School officials suspended the fraternity for a year and required the 50 or so students to perform community service. One student, who posed individually, was suspended.
Playboy returned to Waco this spring for another Big 12 shoot. This time, Baylor made a pre-emptive strike.
Dr. Dub Oliver, vice president for student life, sent out a universitywide e-mail warning that posing for "a magazine that is clearly antithetical to Baylor's mission" would violate the school's code of conduct and be penalized accordingly.
That could mean anything from a warning to expulsion, depending on the circumstances.
Big 12, minus one
It worked so well that the Big 12 became the Big 11 in the magazine, generating at least one complaint from a reader who felt shortchanged by Baylor's absence.
That couldn't be helped, Playboy responded on its blog.
"When administrators heard we would be coming to Waco, they threatened to expel any student who posed," the magazine stated.
A few seniors did contact Playboy since they'd have graduated before the photos appeared, "but we thought it wasn't worth them risking their degrees," Playboy wrote.
SMU's stand, leaving the decision to students, provides no such difficulties.
So when Playboy publishes its intimate look at the "Girls of Conference USA" in its May 2007 issue, chances are the women of SMU will be fully represented, if not fully clothed.