The scandal over LSU’s mishandling of sexual assault and harassment complaints is prompting some tough talk from the governor.
“We must hold our university presidents to the absolute highest standards for leadership and accountability. Not only are they responsible for leading our academic institutions, but they also have the responsibility to ensure the safety of all students under their care.”
It’s good to see a governor tackling this important issue, but the problem is that those words came from the governor of Oregon, Kate Brown. John Bel Edwards, the governor of the state groaning under the weight of the scandal, has been more muted.
“I’m not going to take issue with what LSU has decided to do,” he said.
Brown’s tough talk came as Oregon State University’s board ushered out the school’s new president, F. King Alexander, over his handling of sexual assault cases while he was the top man at LSU.
It has been disheartening to watch, but folks in Oregon and Kansas seem more unnerved by the scandal than the leaders of the state where it actually occurred. The University of Kansas parted ways with football coach Les Miles, who was ordered to stay away from female student workers while he was winning football games at Tiger Stadium, then ousted the man who hired him, Jeff Long.
LSU’s interim president Tom Galligan is under fire from students because of the university’s light discipline for athletic administrators Miriam Segar and Verge Ausberry, whose account of his handling of a domestic assault incident was found by the law firm Husch Blackwell to be “not credible.”
Board of Supervisors President Robert Dampf, in a letter released this week, suggested that the punishments in Baton Rouge were comparatively light because the chief culprit — Alexander — had already moved on from LSU.
"The fact that we cannot ensure accountability for people who have left the university, and many have, has caused more local forces to demand the entirety of the justice fall onto just a few people," Dampf wrote. "This form of scapegoating is not justice."
But there are questions that demand answers from the man at the top.
Is Athletic Director Scott Woodward, who has been a defender of Ausberry, up to the task of changing the culture on North Stadium Drive?
Who was Alexander talking about when he said supervisors pushed back against his decisions “shutting down the Greek system” after a series of hazing incidents that resulted in the death of freshman Max Gruver?
Did supervisors protect their allies on campus?
Alexander is free to sing like a canary about his days in Baton Rouge. The Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, which held a bruising, daylong hearing March 10, is planning to continue its inquiries.
Whatever happened, it will all come tumbling out.