Louisiana Board of Regents passes new sexual harassment policy

All post secondary institutions in the state must implement new training and prevention guidelines

By: - August 10, 2021 12:50 pm
Tiger Stadium

LSU’s Tiger Stadium (Photo by Julie O’Donoghue / Louisiana Illuminator)

The Louisiana Board of Regents voted Tuesday to establish new, expanded procedures for dealing with sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence on college campuses statewide.

Louisiana universities and colleges will now use broader definitions of sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence. The Board of Regents — which oversees state higher education policy — had to enact new misconduct rules in response to new laws passed by the Louisiana Legislature earlier this year. 

Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Reed said it was important to protect students in all areas and act quickly with new policies.

“This requires a student-focused mindset, it requires a campus culture that cares, one that looks out for each other,” Reed said. “As we know, the legislature and the governor have sent a clear message, they expect us to do better, much better, and they expect immediate results.”

These changes come in the wake of a wide-ranging sexual misconduct and domestic violence scandal at LSU. A law firm brought in to investigate the university concluded LSU failed on several fronts to stop sexual abuse, sexual harassment and dating violence from occurring on its campuses. 

The board now requires more safety education, prohibits retaliation against those who report misconduct and mandates up-the-chain reporting of inappropriate behavior. 

Under this policy, any college or university employee who fails to report misconduct or falsely reports will be fired. LSU has been criticized for refusing to fire two athletic officials — Verge Ausberry and Miriam Segar — who didn’t report allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence by football players to the appropriate campus authorities. 

Under the new rules, each Louisiana college and university must also adopt procedures that reflect that board’s policy by October. Those procedures then have to go to the Board of Regents by Dec. 15. 

Under these new regulations, each institution has to publish misconduct survey results every three years, along with annual reporting of campus security and sex crime data reports. If the institution fails to do this, they will not be allowed to access the state’s publicly-funded financing for building projects. 

Additionally, any student who is the subject of a sexual misconduct complaint and tries to transfer to a different institution will have their transcript withheld or notated. 

Other items included in the policy are annual mandatory training for Title IX coordinators and others who will deal with misconduct allegations.

“We need to make sure we have training on the policies so as we step into the fall semester, individuals have the information on which to move forward following the state and federal requirements,” Reed said. 

After discussing these updated policies, board members briefly discussed COVID-19 safety. State Health Official Dr. Joseph Kanter asked board members to prioritize COVID-19 mitigation measures with students returning to campus for the upcoming school year. Kanter said if COVID-19 cases continue to surge, the state would be in trouble. 

“If we don’t peak in a week or two, it’s just simply going to be a catraphoic situation for hospitals,” Kanter said. “There’s no way to remotely sustain that. I would expect more aggressive mitigation measures to be seriously considered if we don’t peak in the one to two week timeframe.”

The  board will have a more in-depth discussion of COVID-19 mitigation measures in a later meeting. 

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

Rachel Mipro has previous experience at WBRZ and The Reveille and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University. At LSU, she worked as an opinion editor for The Reveille and as a nonfiction editor for the university’s creative writing journal. In her free time, she enjoys baking, Netflix and hiking.