Louisiana lawmakers pitch 2 bills to improve sexual assault reporting at public colleges

Dive Brief: 

  • Two proposed laws that would tighten sexual abuse reporting requirements at the state’s public colleges are progressing in Louisiana’s legislature. 

  • One bill would establish a committe — which would include lawmakers, state officials, college board presidents and students — to evaluate institutions’ policies for reviewing sexual violence cases. Another would require that employees who don’t report sexual abuse or who are misleading about the details be terminated. 

  • Louisiana joins other states considering bills that would add oversight to public colleges’ Title IX responsibilities in the wake of sexual abuse scandals. 

Dive Insight: 

Both bills, which originated in the Senate, unanimously passed in the House. The Senate must approve any changes before the bills head to the governor for his signature. 

The proposed legislation was prompted by a recent USA Today investigation into Louisiana State University’s failures to address sexual violence, including accusations against student-athletes the Lafayette Daily Advertiser reported. The national publication found that Louisiana State officials repeatedly doubted reports of sexual abuse or didn’t investigate or notify authorities about cases. 

The university later hired a law firm to conduct an investigation into the matter, which revealed widespread issues with the college’s system for addressing sexual assault. 

The University of Kansas fired former Louisiana State head football coach Les Miles for his alleged role in the scandal. F. King Alexander, who was president of Louisiana State from 2013 to 2019, also resigned as the head of Oregon State University earlier this year amid the report’s fallout. 

More recently, similar issues were unearthed at Louisiana Tech University and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. 

Louisiana isn’t the only state hoping to improve sexual assault reporting at its colleges. Oregon lawmakers introduced a bill last month that would create a committee to oversee how the state’s universities respond to sexual assault and racial discrimination on campus. The eight-member panel would be able to investigate colleges, including by subpoenaing witnesses and appointing independent investigators to conduct audits. 

Federal lawmakers also hope to create stricter reporting requirements. Several legislators reintroduced a bill last month that would require colleges’ top officials to attest that they have reviewed all reported sexual abuse complaints involving a campus employee. A similar measure was proposed in 2018 and 2019.

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