Published for The Baylor Lariat on April 1, 2019

Baylor files lawsuit against The Dia Gang for use of ‘university marks’

Baylor University filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Bleux LLC and Umar Brimah in connection with Dia Gang, which the university claims is using phrases and designs, or “marks,” that have a history and strong connection to Baylor.

The lawsuit comes as a response to the actions taken by Brimah and Dia Gang in relation to Diadeloso, Baylor’s annual day off of school for on-campus activities like goat yoga and bubble soccer. Brimah, a Baylor alumnus and founder of Bleux LLC, sent mass emails to Baylor students via their student email accounts promoting an off-campus Lil Jon concert and merchandise with logos containing phrases like “Livingstone Make Dia Thursday Again.”

In the lawsuit, Baylor claimed that Bleux, Brimah’s company hosting the concert, used the name “Dia Gang” to capitalize off of Baylor’s event, as well as used “university marks” like “Dia”, “Baylor”, “BU” or a bear design on merchandise not related to the university. Bleux and all associated parties to cease using university marks and transfer the domain name thediagang.com. Baylor owns pending applications to register marks like “Dia” and “Diadeloso” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“To solidify the association between their concert and Baylor’s Diadeloso festival, Defendants adopted the name ‘The Dia Gang’ to promote their concert and associated products and services,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants used ‘Dia’ and ‘Diadeloso’ as marks in connection with the promotion and sale of clothing and accessories, often in combination with presumably unlicensed, third-party marks.”

The lawsuit also claims that Bleux used hashtags like #BaylorDia and #BaylorNation, as well as phrases like “Sic ‘Em Bears” in promotional material sent to students and that the emails sent using addresses like dia_gang@baylor.edu could easily be confused as being affiliated with the university. The lawsuit further mentioned that phrases included on Dia Gang promotional merchandise do not fall in line with Baylor’s Christian mission.

“For example, Defendants’ use of the name ‘The Dia Gang’ and their sale of shirts displaying the message ‘I Went to Diadeloso and All I Got was this F**kin Shirt’,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claimed that prior to taking legal action, Baylor attempted to contact and resolve the issue with Brimah and Bleux directly. Baylor addressed this and the university’s longing to protect trademarked material in a statement to the Lariat.

“Baylor University is required to protect its trademarks and intellectual property in order to maintain trademark registrations. Our first step is always education, which Baylor did in this case. Unfortunately, in this situation, Baylor’s trademarks related to Diadeloso continue to be violated and misused, which has prompted this legal action,” the statement said. “In addition to numerous trademark violations, this business owner spoofed Baylor.edu email addresses and inappropriately used the Baylor email system to promote a non-University affiliated event. Our primary focus with this litigation – and in all of our prior communications with this business owner – is that he recognize and respect Baylor’s ownership of the Diadeloso trademark and its related variations and cease use immediately.”

Brimah, the defendant in the lawsuit, said that he had been in communication with Baylor Student Activities in the past and had considering attempting to partner up for an on-campus event.

“The big thing is that I’m hosting an event with Lil Jon that is right across from the stadium and close to campus and Baylor is very protective about Dia — they are very against the event and I feel that they’re using the t-shirts in a way to stop my efforts with the event,” Brimah said. “It all started early this year when I reached out to Student Activities — I talked about the idea of combining to do an on-campus Dia. I noticed a trend where off-campus Dia was growing but I felt like there was a way to incorporate it back on to campus if they were able to pick the right artist. I went into meeting with them thinking it was going to be a conversation about the event but it turned into them just showing pictures of T-shirts and telling me to take them down.”

Brimah said that he complied with Baylor regarding the use of the phrase “Dia Del Oso” and didn’t expect the situation to turn into a lawsuit.

“They told me the word ‘Dia’ was trademarked by the university — I knew ‘Dia Del Oso’ was trademarked so once they told me about those, we took down shirts that had ‘Dia Del Oso’ on them but they actually filed the trademark for the word ‘Dia’ on March 25 of this year right before they filed the suit,” Brimah said. “It all just felt like a play on their side to try and take down the t-shirts. I complied with them—I shut down the site and put a password on it so no one could get in, I disabled the checkout and unpublished the social images.”

Brimah mentioned that his goal with hosting the Lil Jon concert is to ultimately provide students with a fun and safe event to partake in during Diadeloso and that he hopes his experience planning events around the Baylor and Waco communities will help him further his career in the event and music industries.

“My biggest thing has been to try and foster a safer environment for students to have fun and party in. I’ve been in the party scene for a while and I’ve seen how disorganized things can get,” Brimah said. “This is something I’m very passionate about because the music industry is where I’m trying to get to. There’s not really a better way to get there than promoting events from the ground up — there’s a nice starter scene in college where you can book smaller artists and build a name for yourself over time. That’s the path I’ve been going on but it has been significantly more difficult because of Baylor and the image they want to uphold.”

Despite the difficulties that the concert has caused, Brimah said that the event will still occur but is not in any way affiliated with Baylor.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Published for The Baylor Lariat on February 4, 2019

From Walmart to Waco: Mason Ramsey to host concert at Baylor

Baylor students can look forward to a night of music and supporting worthy causes on Mar. 28 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. when viral music star Mason Ramsey will perform a concert in Waco Hall.

The event will be hosted by Pi Beta Phi sorority and Phi Kappa Chi fraternity and is planned in partnership with Waco Hall, Student Activities, BDSC Ticket Office and Creative Artists Agency.

Donations from the event will benefit Read Lead Achieve and I Love Orphans philanthropies. Ramsey will visit Waco as a stop on his “How’s Your Girl & How’s Your Family” tour, which also visits cities like Austin and Nashville.

Ramsey, 12, went viral in last March when he was caught on video singing “Lovesick Blues” by Hank Williams in a Walmart store in Illinois. The video quickly circulated around the Internet and currently has over 62 million views on YouTube. Ramsey signed a record deal with Atlantic Records and Big Loud Records a month later, and he has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show as well as performed at Coachella music festival. His six-song EP Famous is currently available on Spotify, with the lead single “Famous” garnering over 37 million listens.

Tulsa, Okla., junior Hannah Scroggins is the president of Pi Beta Phi and anticipates the event being one that unites the Baylor community for a night that all students can enjoy.

“I’m so excited to watch Mason perform and make memories with Baylor students who are involved in a variety of things, all while supporting Pi Beta Phi and Phi Kappa Chi’s philanthropies,” Scroggins said. “I think this will be a super fun and unique Baylor memory to add to the book. Trent Bradley approached Pi Phi and pitched the idea, and we ran with it — we thought it would be a fun and one-of-a-kind event to bring students from all ages and involvements together.”

Colleyville senior Trent Bradley said he came up with the idea and reached out to Ramsey in September. He was surprised to hear back quickly to begin coordinating the event.

“I came across Mason Ramsey’s Twitter profile and saw an email in his bio about booking. I sent a quick email, almost certain that nothing would come from it. The kid was coming off a huge performance at Coachella, so I knew I needed to set expectations low,” Bradley said. “I was honestly surprised that his agent even replied the next morning. I hadn’t told anyone about sending the initial email, and by the next day, I was negotiating price and venue and determining if this was feasible for us.”

Bradley, a member of Phi Kappa Chi, decided that working with Pi Beta Phi for the event would be beneficial.

“Phi Kappa Chi has hosted concerts for our philanthropy before, most recently Kings Kaleidoscope in 2017, but we’ve never had an artist as big as Mason Ramsey,” Bradley said. “I brought my executive council up to speed, and we decided to try and bring Pi Beta Phi on board. Not only would they be able to help cover some of the up-front expenses, but we knew they’d be a huge help with marketing and ticket sales. Plus, our fraternity developed a great relationship with them after Sing this past year, so I knew our members would be excited about it.”

Since an event this large-scale can be difficult to coordinate, Bradley said that he was surprised how everything was able to come together for Ramsey to host an on-campus concert.

“There were just so many moving parts – he was trying to fit us into his tour, and we only had a few dates that would work with our schedules. And even if we could agree on a date, we’d need to find a venue that could house the event,” Bradley said. “Because of this, we decided to keep the event as secret as possible, even amongst our chapter members. We really didn’t want everyone to be disappointed if it ended up falling through. I’m still baffled at how perfectly everything fell into place over Christmas break. He really wanted to come Mar. 28, which happened to be one of the few dates that worked with the Waco Hall calendar and our own.”

Bradley and Scroggins both emphasized that all money collected from the concert will be donated to Pi Beta Phi’s philanthropy Read Lead Achieve, which promotes literacy and developing a love of reading, and Phi Kappa Chi’s philanthropy I Love Orphans, which will use funds to help out the “Bukaleba Project”, a plan to build various educational and community facilities in Uganda.

“The coolest part about this event is that every penny we make will be donated to our respective philanthropies,” Bradley said. “Trying to bring a big name to Baylor’s campus has been a lot of work, but knowing this concert will help thousands of individuals all across the globe has made it so worth it.”

Both Pi Beta Phi and Phi Kappa Chi announced that the concert would be taking place last week on their Instagram pages, and Bradley anticipates the event as one that will be exciting for the Baylor community to enjoy.

“We were able to announce it to our chapters and the rest of Baylor this month, and it still doesn’t seem real,” Bradley said. “I sent a random email in September and now we’re hosting one of the biggest concerts ever at Baylor in March. Pretty crazy.”

Scroggins said that tickets for the concert will go on sale next week, and that the best way to stay updated is to check the “Mason Ramsey Concert” Facebook page.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Published for The Baylor Lariat on January 17, 2019

Pi Beta Phi to receive sanctions for controversial video

Sanctions are officially being placed on Pi Beta Phi sorority for a controversial video posted online on Jan. 10 by a member of the group. 

The eight-second video was originally posted on the Instagram story of a Pi Beta Phi member. It depicts sorority members in their chapter room jumping and singing the lyrics to “Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes, including a lyric containing the N-word. The video was posted on Twitter soon after, receiving over 30,000 views. 

Vice President for Student Life, Kevin P. Jackson, addressed the video in a statement to the Lariat deeming it “racially insensitive” and something that “does not in any way reflect Baylor’s institutional values.” 

“As soon as University officials learned of the report, we began an immediate inquiry to gather additional information and initiated our established student organization conduct review process,” Jackson said. “The inquiry has been completed, and the organization has taken full responsibility for the incident and apologized for their actions. The organization, in coordination with the University, has identified internal accountability practices, cultural awareness education and ways to address the individuals responsible and the organizational culture that resulted in the racially insensitive behavior.” 

Jackson said that mutually agreed-upon sanctions were decided for the sorority. Examples of these sanctions are the cancellation of a major organization event this spring, which was not specified, and the reallocation of those funds for a mandatory cultural awareness workshop for members, as well as a partnership with Multicultural Affairs to co-sponsor a cultural awareness education program for the student body, according to university spokesperson Lori Fogleman. 

Pi Beta Phi responded directly to the Lariat in a statement addressing the incident, stating that the group “regrets and takes full responsibility for the actions of [their] members” and calling the language used “racially insensitive.” 

“The lyrics of this song do not align with Pi Beta Phi’s core values nor do they exemplify what our organization stands for,” Pi Beta Phi’s statement said. “Chapter leadership swiftly took action to address this behavior and hold members accountable for these inappropriate actions.” 

The statement also mentioned that action is being taken to better inform group members on “cultural awareness.” 

“In consultation with our Headquarters and Baylor University’s Office of Student Activities, the chapter is developing a plan to address the internal factors that allowed this behavior to exist and to better educate our members on cultural awareness and sensitivity,” Pi Beta Phi’s statement read. “On behalf of all members of the Texas Zeta Chapter of Pi Beta Phi, we sincerely apologize for any offense resulting from this incident.” 

Baylor Panhellenic also provided a statement to the Lariat, mentioning that they are working with Pi Beta Phi, Student Activities and Baylor University since Panhellenic became aware of the “racially insensitive video.”

“All member organizations are expected to live by the Panhellenic Creed, a statement defining our values as a community, and this incident is not reflective of that commitment,” Baylor Panhellenic’sstatement said. “We are supportive of the Baylor student organization conduct review process, as well as the statement released by Baylor University.”

Baylor NAACP also released a  statement  on January 16th regarding the incident, calling for Pi Beta Phi to be held accountable for their actions, but for the incident to also act as a “teachable moment” for the sorority and the university as a whole. 

“Baylor University prides itself on being a caring community, but this video, as well as other instances, such as cultural appropriation and awareness, have proven to be a weakness to that value,” Baylor NAACP said. “Baylor NAACP and the National Pan-Hellenic Council would like an opportunity to host an educational program for Panhellenic and other student organizations on the importance of understanding their organization’s obligation to social responsibility.” 

Jackson further emphasized the inappropriate nature of the video’s contents in his statement, as well as expressed a longing to ensure that all Baylor organizations comply with university guidelines and values. 

“We are deeply disappointed because we have high standards of conduct for our students and the organizations to which they belong,” Jackson said. “Baylor is strongly committed to our Christian mission, which includes understanding the importance of cultural sensitivity and ensuring we are respectful of the words that we use and their potential effect on others.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Published for The Baylor Lariat on November 12, 2018

Pre-health partnership leads to drive benefiting Waco’s homeless population

Upon volunteering and witnessing the effects of homelessness on the Waco community, San Antonio junior Aleena Huerta decided she wanted to use her role at Baylor to make a difference.

Huerta’s idea led to a campuswide blanket and jacket drive, organized through a partnership between Baylor’s Multicultural Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS), American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) and Latino Pre-Health Student Association (LPHSA). Huerta serves as the pre-dental chair for LPHSA.

The drive accepts blankets and jackets for donation and lasts until Friday, with the groups distributing the donations at Street Ministries’ Thanksgiving meal to benefit Waco’s homeless population. The easiest way to donate is to reach out to Huerta, Grimes, Iowa junior Therese Riesberg or Austin junior Betty Mekonnen via Baylor email to set up a dropoff time.

Huerta’s inspiration for the drive came when she realized the difficulty that results from being homeless during times of particularly cold weather.

“The idea for the drive came about a few weeks ago during my shift at the Meyer Center homeless shelter,” Huerta said. “A cold front had come in, and it was 35 to 40 degrees and rainy for several days. Multiple people had come into the shelter freezing cold, asking for any type of jacket or blanket to keep them warm, and most of them had been outside all day and even slept in that weather with nothing. Having to turn people away and not having anything to give was a terrible feeling. After this experience, I went to Walmart and bought as many blankets, hand warmers, socks and gloves as I could and drove around Waco handing them out.”

Huerta appreciates the opportunity to reach out to the homeless population in Waco and hopes the drive will make a difference in people’s lives.

“Before I went home for fall break, I posted in my community Facebook page asking if anyone had any items that they’d be willing to donate, used or unused, and came home from break with 60 blankets and 30 jackets,” Huerta said. “At this point it was a lot to hand out on my own so I contacted my friends who also have leadership roles in pre-health organizations and together we put together the drive.”

Riesberg serves as vice president of AMWA and hopes the drive causes students to reflect on the role of homelessness in the Waco community and how they can best help.

“I hope Baylor students realize how much of an impact this drive will make on the homeless population of Waco,” Riesberg said. “Since it’s such a prominent population and the weather is starting to get colder, there’s more of a need than ever for a cause like this, and I hope people are able to see the difference they have the opportunity to make. Homeless people are presented with all kinds of difficulties each and every day, and it’s only amplified when it’s cold outside and they don’t have the means to stay warm.”

Houston senior Giana Rodriguez serves as the founder and president of LPHSA and is glad the drive provided an opportunity for three pre-health groups on campus to partner up and make a difference in the community.

“All these groups came together because of Aleena [Huerta] reaching out and wanting this to be as successful as possible,” Rodriguez said. “It was easy to say yes and come together for this great cause. I hope this becomes a tradition and that Baylor students continue to give with generosity and love.”

Rodriguez said this year is LPHSA’s first as a charted campus organization, but the group already has over 100 members and hopes to provide academic opportunities for those involved, as well as a sense of diversity and the ability to form relationships through social events.

“We mix medicine and Latino culture together by educating our students on how we can better help our Latino community once we’re practicing professionals and today as undergraduate students,” Rodriguez said. “We do service at Carnet Clinic, Fuzzy Friends, and have opportunities to shadow surgeries, doctors and go to elderly homes. We want to impact our Waco community and help it form us into better people and future professionals in medicine.”

Rodriguez hopes LPHSA continues to grow in the future and mentioned how more events and activities are planned for the upcoming semester. She said a good way to stay up to date with the group is to follow @lphsabaylor on social media.

“Next semester, starting in January, we’ll be starting a huge fundraiser for used shoes that people don’t want anymore — our goal is to fill 100 bags with 25 pairs of shoes in each, and I definitely think we can do it,” Rodriguez said. “We’re also working on planning a dance-a-thon, a professor and student mixer and more, so definitely keep an eye out for us.”

AMWA promotes equality in the pre-health field through various group events, and Riesberg said she hopes students will look out for an upcoming event for awareness for sexual abuse.

“We’re a group of pre-health women and men geared toward promoting gender equality in the healthcare field, as well as empowering each other to reach our goals,” Riesberg said. “Look out for our big #MeToo event next semester — it’s next semester’s biggest meeting, and it’s all about awareness of sexual assault and abuse. Survivors will tell their stories, the counseling center will be there for support, and we’ll talk about this as an issue that needs attention.”

Huerta sees the partnership of MAPS, AMWA and LPHSA as a positive step for the pre-health groups and hopes Baylor students take the time to offer a donation and consider how they can help end homelessness in Waco.

“The homeless population seems to get overlooked a lot, but they are truly grateful for anything given to them, and I’ve met so many great people while working at the shelter,” Huerta said. “I hope the drive encourages Baylor students to spend some time focusing on giving to the homeless population here.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Published for The Baylor Lariat on November 1, 2018

The Livingstones talk playing OSU in football and Homecoming traditions

This homecoming weekend will provide a unique situation for Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone and First Gentleman Brad Livingstone. Baylor is playing Oklahoma State for Saturday’s homecoming game — the Livingstones’ alma mater.

The Livingstones met at Oklahoma State University through their involvement in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and both played basketball and received undergraduate and graduate degrees at the university. Despite their deep appreciation for their time and experiences at Oklahoma State, Brad Livingstone said they will always be Bears at heart.

“Oklahoma State is our alma mater, and we hope that they win every single game except one — and that’s when they play Baylor,” Brad Livingstone said. “We bleed OSU orange, but are Baylor Bears now and are always behind Baylor. They’re both phenomenal schools, however, and we’re very excited OSU is here, but hope for a Baylor victory.”

President Livingstone agrees and enjoys the fun atmosphere and friendly competition that results when the two schools play each other in football.

“We always love it when Oklahoma State and Baylor play each other,” Dr. Livingstone said. “Of course, we cheer always for Baylor, but we have so many good friends at OSU. I’m looking forward to a win, and it’s always fun on homecoming game day to have alumni back on campus.”

President Livingstone is particularly excited to reunite with some of her former Oklahoma State basketball teammates and her family members.

“At the game Saturday, two of my former basketball teammates at OSU will be with us, and some of my family is coming down as well,” Dr. Livingstone said. “There will probably be a few people in OSU orange in the president’s suite, but they’re dear friends and wonderful family. We get to be excited about cheering for Baylor, but also see some good friends from OSU.”

President Livingstone described her experience at Oklahoma State as extremely positive and believes that her time at the university provided a foundation for leadership roles she has pursued in higher education.

“I had an amazing experience at Oklahoma State — I played basketball there, and that was so important in helping me develop leadership skills and learning how to work with a team and people from different backgrounds and experiences,” Dr. Livingstone said. “I received my bachelor’s, master’s and PhD from there and had so many great faculty and friends from that experience. It was important in shaping my early academic career and building a foundation for where I am today.”

Brad Livingstone said he also shares a deep appreciation for his time at Oklahoma State, but he sees Baylor as a place that has truly become home for him.

“Between my wife and I, we have five degrees from Oklahoma State,” Brad Livingstone said. “We spent a lot of time at OSU but have actually spent more time at Baylor. We were here for 11 years — from 1991 to 2002. We’re back at Baylor now and love Waco and Baylor. This is home for us and we really enjoy being back.”

President Livingstone appreciates the unique experience that Baylor has provided her and continues to provide for students looking to receive a higher education with a Christian mission.

“When I came to Baylor, it was the first time I had been in a Christian education environment,” Dr. Livingstone said. “It really helped me understand the value of Christian higher education. As I went away for several years before ultimately coming back, I realized what a special place Baylor was. When I had the opportunity to return as president, I couldn’t think of a better place to come back to. Baylor has such a unique mission and we’re really blessed to be here.”

Along with the football game between Baylor and Oklahoma State, President Livingstone and Brad Livingstone said they are excited to participate in many of the week’s upcoming homecoming activities and traditions.

“Homecoming is just so exciting,” Brad Livingstone said. “There’s no such thing as a fair-weather Baylor fan — people come back because they love Baylor and what it stands for. Baylor fans are here through thick and thin. All of the traditions and activities make Baylor a very special place, and we can’t wait to be a part of it.”

President Livingstone said she hopes that students and members of the Baylor community engage in and support homecoming events occurring throughout the weekend.

“We love all of the homecoming activities — the bonfire, Singspiration, the parade and Pigskin — we’re doing it all,” President Livingstone added. “Everyone can find something to enjoy during homecoming weekend.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Published for the Baylor Lariat on August 20th, 2018  

Shaking it up in the SUB

Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, and Freshii have all proved to be student favorites as dining options in the Bill Daniel Student Center (SUB), but the SUB is bringing in some exciting new additions.

Common Grounds, Heritage Creamery and Slow Rise Slice House, all popular local spots for the Waco community, will be joining the SUB this fall, along with a location of Steak n’ Shake.

Common Grounds, a quaint coffee shop located right off of the Baylor campus on 8th street, has grown into a must-see for Waco tourists, and is a spot that unites the Baylor community. A new location was recently added in Woodway as well.

Heritage Creamery and Slow Rise have the same owners as the Common Grounds locations, and are located near the coffee shops.

Blake Batson, a 2008 Baylor grad and owner of these three local businesses, hopes that the new additions will inspire growth and support of Waco.

“All of the stuff that people are doing in Waco creates synergy,” Batson said. “It makes anyone — student or faculty — want to engage with their city and community.”

The new additions will be located on the first floor of the SUB, replacing Einstein Bros. Bagels and Mooyah. Common Grounds plans to stay open until 11 p.m., and will offer its full menu, including its well-known “Cowboy Coffee” drink.

“Common Grounds serves responsibly sourced and carefully roasted coffees from all over the world,” the company’s website says. “Common Grounds is home and our staff is family.”

In addition to serving Waco, Batson continues to do his best to serve his alma mater by including Baylor in his vision.

“Partnering with Baylor will continue to encourage students to think outside of the bubble,” Batson says. “We want to create an atmosphere that will continue to lend itself towards this experience.”

Batson dreams big when thinking of future spots for the Waco community, envisioning spots like a barber shop, climbing gym, and possibly even an arcade bar similar to ones in Dallas or Austin.

“They’re kind of entertainment meets hospitality meets social gathering ventures,” Batson said. “That’s the world I tend to find myself in in Waco.”

Matt Burchett, director of student activities at Baylor, also sees the addition of these new local spots as a way to connect Baylor to the Waco community.

“Baylor will do our part to make sure students have a comfortable space to sit down that matches the vibe of what Common Grounds is trying to create,” Burchett said.

The SUB is a place for students to gather and interact, and furthering the sense of community is an important goal for these new spots.

“If there’s any company that optimizes being invested in our local community, it’s the Common Grounds franchise,” Burchett said. “It’s important for us as a department to continue to invest in our local community and local economy.”

For other exciting additions in the SUB, students can look out for a new dance studio, student involvement center, and even the original Carroll Field football sign – a recently renovated historical piece from Carroll Field, the first stadium on campus where the Bears played football from 1906 to the 1930’s.

Both the SUB and Common Grounds ultimately seek to foster a strong sense of unity and to create special spots for Baylor and Waco alike.

“One of the reasons we originally pursued Common Grounds was because of its place in our community,” Burchett said. “Baylor students and alumni have a great affinity for what Common Grounds has meant to them.”