With LSU leaders absent for Title IX hearing, students voice frustration at Capitol
BATON ROUGE – There were plenty of questions at the Capitol on Thursday, and most of them went unanswered.
Members of the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children hoped to talk to LSU leaders about Title IX policies. On Wednesday, the university’s legal counsel advised them not to though, since Associate Athletics Director Sharon Lewis filed a lawsuit against LSU and some of her bosses.
“It’s just not a risk we can take the day after a person announces a civil RICO suit in federal court against the university,” said Winston Decuir, the VP of legal affairs at LSU.
The empty seats opened up the opportunity for LSU students to talk to lawmakers.
“It’s disheartening and it’s humiliating and it’s scary to know that if [sexual assault] would happen to me in the future, I would not be protected,” Mia Macaluso said. “I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t want to go to a campus that continually puts my money into covering up these kinds of things.”
Lawmakers also said they were disappointed they didn’t have the opportunity to ask Coach Ed Orgeron, athletic administrators Miriam Segar and Verge Ausbery, nor Athletics Director Scott Woodward questions about allegations against them.
“There are people there now that were there at the time when many of these things occurred who—some of them—are in the same position. That is a problem,” Senator Regina Barrow said.
The 2021 legislative session starts on Monday. Many lawmakers have already filed bills that relate to improving Title IX policies.
“I hope they will be followed. Because the ones in 2015 were ignored by some current employees at LSU, which is disheartening for students and parents,” Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman said.
Freeman wrote one bill that would require mandatory reporting of sexual misconduct at postsecondary education institutes and has a termination clause for those who do not report. Others tackle campus safety and accountability.
Committee members are also considering whether to subpoena the LSU leaders that did not show up Thursday.