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La. universities now have to follow strict guidelines with cases of sexual misconduct

A photo of the Memorial Tower on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, La.
A photo of the Memorial Tower on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, La.(WAFB)
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 5:16 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s been about a year since an investigation uncovered LSU’s alleged mishandling of sexual misconduct cases, now LSU’s Title IX Office said they are taking steps to make sure that never happens again.

“I think it’s good to have the conversation that people are like interesting in it and don’t just let it slide by,” Emily Herbet, who is an LSU student and a member of Tigers Against Sexual Assault, explained.

Herbet said there is an open dialogue on campus that allows students to feel more comfortable talking about sexual assault compared to nine months ago.

“So, it’s good to bring it up because it kind of changes that stigma that it should be shameful because it happens just because you don’t hear about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen,” added Herbet.

About a year ago, the Husch Blackwell investigation uncovered instances they say LSU mishandled sexual misconduct cases. Now, LSU’s Title IX Office is taking a new approach on the issue focusing on mandatory reporting, training and helping students overcome the trauma of sexual assault.

“We are light years ago from where we were before. Before there was no clarity as to where to go to report, the office was completely understaffed. So, even if you reported it, I am sure there were times where it seemed like a black hole,” explained Dr. Jane Cassidy, who is the interim vice president for LSU’s Title IX Office.

LSU employees like other state universities will have to go through sexual misconduct training every year. Employees will also have to report a case if someone discloses an incident to them otherwise there will be consequences.

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“State law is very clear if you know about something and you don’t report it, then you will be fired,” Dr. Cassidy added.

Universities like LSU will also be responsible for providing a report of how many sexual misconduct cases are reported to the Louisiana Board of Regents twice a year.

Dr. Cassidy said this upcoming year they will be focusing on educating the students and faculty on sexual assault and rebuilding that level of trust with the students.

“The number of reports that have gone up and we that as a sign that people feel confident and comfortable with coming to us, these are ones that probably in the past never would have been reported,” explained Dr. Cassidy.

Cassidy added that they will modify their program as new cases are reported. Their goal is to create a program that will offer multiple avenues to students on how they want to handle their situation.

“It feels good when there seems to be some improvement or that something is happening,” Herbet said.

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