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Baylor invites West residents to Big 12 opener against West Virginia

Baylor announced this afternoon that residents of West, Texas, the site of the fertilizer plant explosion in April that killed 15 people, can attend the October 5, 2013 game against West Virginia for free. First responders to that disaster are also invited.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I wanted to put up a thread about this because, quite simply, I think it's awesome.  The fact that it's easy to do because it doesn't cost anything doesn't make it any less meaningful.  And even more importantly, to me at least, it's the latest in a long line of positive actions on Baylor's part in reaction to the West explosion.  That's something I'm very proud of as a Baylor alum because I think it represents our values.  We say constantly that we love those around us, but saying is different from doing.  Too often in the past, Baylor found itself separated from the communities around it, often by choice but more often by seemingly benign neglect.  I've said it multiple times before, but it seems like both sides now realize how valuable the other is to its own interests.  Baylor needs a vibrant community around her to thrive as a university, and those communities need Baylor as a source of employment, publicity, and commercial growth.  Inviting these people to the game for free, just months after their lives (and town) were ripped apart, is another great step in the right direction, following the example set by President Starr in his outstanding speech at the West Memorial. The only sad part is that it took us so long to get here.

It will be interesting to see how many West residents answer the call and attend the game on October 5 against the West Virginia Mountaineers, especially since that will be the first game of Baylor's 2013 conference schedule and the first trip to Waco in West Virginia's history.  I'm glad to see that meeting them there that day will be a unified community of Central Texas.