Bill threatens bond funding if universities don’t post crime stats on their homepage

By: - May 6, 2021 3:11 pm
LSU Student Union

(Photo by Julie O’Donoghue)

Rep. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) thinks that public universities that don’t report their crime statistics on the homepage of their website need more than “just a good talking to.”

House Bill 394 would ban universities that don’t put crime stats on their homepage from asking for bonds from the state, which could slow down projects. The bill already cleared the House and advanced out of the Senate Education Committee without opposition Thursday. 

Universities are already required to report their crime statistics under a federal law called the Clery Act. The act is named after Jeanne Clery, who was raped and murdered on the Lehigh University campus, in Pennsylvania. Clery originally planned to go to Tulane University in New Orleans.

But some universities make it difficult to find the information, Rep. Riser said. The information is not prominent on university’s websites, he said. “You gotta kind of meander through.” Sen. Beth Mizell (R-Franklinton) said that the information was still difficult to find on Louisiana State University’s website, despite reports that the university failed to protect victims of sexual assault.  “They’ve made promises for three months. The website is still as it was,” she said. “It’s a very low expectation that we have. We just want them to protect the students on their campus.

Sen. White said he thought penalizing non compliant universities by barring them from bonds for projects was too harsh. He offered an amendment that would take out the penalty. When the amendment was described, Rep. Riser said, “A good talking to. I got it.”

Sen. Mizell said she wouldn’t support such an amendment. “We’re not saying you have to change your culture, which I’d love to be able to do,” she said. “But we can say, ‘you’ve got to update your website.’”

A back-and-forth between Sen. White and Rep Riser ultimately ended with Sen. White removing the amendment after he and Riser agreed to look for a compromise. Rep. Riser repeated his assertion, “I don’t think a good talking to is going to get it done.”

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Sara Sneath, Floodlight
Sara Sneath, Floodlight

Sara Sneath is an environmental journalist who lives in New Orleans with her dog and three bikes.