LSU says new Title IX policies will soon be in place

LSU
LSU Clock Tower (Photo by Julie O'Donoghue / Louisiana Illuminator)

LSU will have new civil rights and Title IX policies by July 15 that will spell out the reporting process for sexual misconduct, list the people who must report such misconduct and codify sanctions for employees who don’t report misconduct, Jane Cassidy, the Interim Vice President of Civil Rights & Title IX at LSU, told the LSU Board of Supervisors at a Saturday morning meeting.

On March 5, the law firm Husch Blackwell released a 150-page report that concluded that LSU hadn’t made enough of an effort to combat sexual misconduct and violence on its campus in Baton Rouge, hadn’t sufficiently staffed the Title IX office, which handles campus cases of sexual misconduct and violence, and had no clear policies in place about when employees are required to report sexual violence and sexual misconduct. The law firm’s report followed a series of stories by USA Today which focused on several cases involving the athletics department or fraternity brothers in which LSU mishandled sexual misconduct on campus.

“We don’t have policies that are that detailed,” Cassidy told a reporter about the university’s current Title IX policies. Right now, LSU has a general Title IX policy addressing sexual misconduct that applies to all of its campuses statewide, but Cassidy said the new policies will go into further detail on how students on different LSU campuses should handle sexual misconduct.

Cassidy said the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX has been expanding its workforce, as the office looks to hire another case manager, more investigators and more administration. Last year, the university only had one Title IX coordinator and one case manager for 50,000 students, Cassidy said.

The office will also add a Director of Lighthouse, who would head LSU’s Lighthouse Program, a program that “provides free and confidential interpersonal violence prevention, support, and advocacy to the LSU campus community.” All these positions are scheduled to be filled by the end of the year.

LSU will also offer mandatory training for employees, graduate assistants and student workers as well as separate training for incoming students, all of which will be reviewed by the anti-sexual misconduct organization Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response (STAR). LSU Athletics and the football team will also work with STAR on education, training and policy development.

On Thursday, the Louisiana Senate Select Committee on Women & Children held its  third hearing on sexual misconduct in higher education, where Winston DeCuir, LSU’s general counsel, said even though attorneys had advised LSU’s employees and board members not to speak in front of the women’s select committee, “that doesn’t mean we weren’t working on this, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to fix this.”

State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) told DeCuir that because of its reluctance to fire anyone, the university is sending a message that it’s officials aren’t concerned enough for the students.

Verge Ausberry and Miriam Segar, two LSU athletics administrators who did nothing when they learned of several allegations of violence and misconduct against football players, weren’t fired, but suspended. Meanwhile across the country, former LSU football coach Les Miles was fired by the University of Kansas. KU also fired the athletic director who hired Miles. F. King Alexander, who served as LSU president between 2013 and 2019 when a number of the allegations of sexual misconduct and violence occurred, resigned as Oregon State University president. The Oregon State board of trustees said there was no way Alexander could regain the trust of the OSU community.

In response, DeCuir defended Ausberry and Segar’s suspensions because he said they didn’t know to report complaints because they hadn’t been properly trained and the university’s history with a lack of reporting of sexual and domestic violence was due to systemic problems — and they need to fix the system, not fire individuals.

Carter Peterson said she agrees the problem was systemic, but said this was an active cover up, “and that warrants dismissal” for some of those implicated in the scandal.