Louisiana Higher Ed: LSU students call out rape culture, Southeastern president to retire 

Your weekly update on the higher education news that didn’t make the front page 

By: - January 27, 2023 8:59 am
LSU Clock Tower

LSU’s War Memorial Tower looms over portions of the Baton Rouge campus. (Photo by Julie O’Donoghue/Louisiana Illuminator)

The Louisiana Illuminator takes a weekly look at news from universities and colleges around the state. Have a tip or want to submit a Louisiana Higher Ed news item? Contact [email protected].

LSU students react to death, alleged rape of classmate

The death of 19-year-old LSU sophomore Madison Brooks, who was struck by a car on Burbank Drive, reignited old feelings of hurt on campus. 

After an investigation into the incident, police have charged two men with raping Brooks before dropping her off near where she was killed. Kaivon Washington, 18, and an unnamed 17-year-old were charged with third-degree rape. Everett Lee, 27, and Casen Carver, 18, were charged with principal to third-degree rape. 

Following the arrest announcement, LSU President William Tate called on local bars to take responsibility for underaged drinking. Student organizations are calling out Tate for the message, which many viewed to be reinforcing rape culture. 

College Democrats of LSU and Feminists in Action LSU put out a joint statement critical of Tate and demanding that the university renew its contract with Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR), a nonprofit the university engaged for two years following the release of a USA Today report detailing the university’s failure to investigate sexual misconduct. STAR provided awareness training on sexual harassment and assault to LSU employees.

“While students are grieving the loss of our peer and fearing for our safety and well-being, your administration directs its attention to the underaged consumption of alcohol,” the groups’ statement said. “These four individuals were arrested for ‘third-degree rape’ and ‘principle to rape,’ not underaged drinking nor driving under the influence.” 

“We are emphasizing these details because we can reach no other conclusion than to center blame on the rapists that discarded her near the scene where she was hit,” the statement continued. 

Southeastern president to retire 

Southeastern Louisiana University President John Crain will retire at the end of the year. A replacement for Crain will be named in the interim. 

Crain has worked in higher education for 35 years and has served as Southeastern’s president since 2009. He was the interim president for several months before that and was the university’s provost for seven years. Crain was a faculty member at the university before moving into administration. 

“Dr. Crain leaves an indelible mark on Southeastern. His remarkable tenure is defined by his visionary leadership and impeccable character,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson said in a press release. 

The search for Southeastern’s next president will begin soon, Henderson said. 

Geomatics investment

The Nicholls State University geomatics program received a $131,000 gift from consulting firm T. Baker Smith. The money will be used to hire a full time professor for spring 2023 and two adjunct professors for fall 2023. 

“Donating to Nicholls is a no-brainer due to the return on investment we receive,” T. Baker Smith CEO Kenneth Smith said. “So many of our associates are alums from all disciplines at Nicholls. Investing in Nicholls means investing in our community.” 

Xavier administrator picked for White House initiative

The White House has recognized the work of a Xavier University of Louisiana professor, picking him for an initiative to expand foreign learning opportunities for American students.

Yu Jiang, Xavier’s global engagement director, was selected as a fellow for the U.S.-Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) University Connections Initiative. The fellowship includes virtual and in-person training designed to foster sustainable international academic partnerships and the two-way exchange of students, scholars, and researchers between U.S. and ASEAN higher education institutions.

Jiang received a two-year grant from the federal State Department to establish study abroad programs in Vietnam for Xavier students. 

XULA math professor Bach Nguyen is leading this summer’s trip, when students will study in Vietnam for four weeks. The university wants to expand its study abroad program to other Asian countries, including Thailand and the Philippines.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Piper Hutchinson
Piper Hutchinson

Piper Hutchinson is a reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She has covered the Legislature and state government extensively for the LSU Manship News Service and The Reveille, where she was named editor in chief for summer 2022.