COVID Press Conference, Dr. Brix

Interim President Tom Galligan discusses future of coronavirus testing for students and staff Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 in a press conference alongside Dr. Deborah Birx and Gov. John Bel Edwards in the LSU Foundation Center for Philanthropy.

Interim President Thomas Galligan gave an update on the University’s progress on reforming Title IX procedures Thursday, and answered other questions students have raised on campus.

“We have to train, train, train,” Galligan said. “Because empathy, culture shift, increased sensitivity, is going to come from awareness and knowledge.”

Galligan said since the Husch Blackwell report was released, the University has looked at the 18 recommendations and plans to implement all of them.

“We now have the 18 recommendations and an action plan that has 47 action items on it and we’re through a third of them,” Galligan said.

As for further sanctions against employees mentioned in the Husch Blackwell report, Galligan said there are “people who are definitely being looked at.”

“Our primary focus is probably on whether or not there ought to be a shift of responsibility or a reallocation of work or moving someone to a different position,” he said. “And I think some of that is going to happen, and while that review goes on, I would expect that those people probably won’t be doing what they were doing before.”

Following the release of the Husch Blackwell report, the University suspended Executive Athletic Director Verge Ausberry for 30 days without pay and Senior Athletics Director Miriam Segar for 21 days without pay. No other sanctions were doled out following the report. Ausberry and Segar have already finished their suspensions and returned to their positions.

Both employees were supposed to undergo sexual assault training during their suspension. According to LSU Executive Deputy Director of Athletics and Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Rempe, Segar is working directly with the CEO of STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response) for weekly one-on-one sessions.

Rempe said Ausberry is working directly with the CEO of A Call to Men for weekly one-on-one sessions. According to its website, A Call to Men is an organization that provides education and resources about “healthy manhood” and sexual violence.

Rempe said both employees will participate in Dynamics of Sexual Violence training through STAR and follow-up training recommended by STAR.

“General counsel consulted with Husch Blackwell and looked at a bunch of training options before recommending the precise training,” Galligan said.

Galligan said the University will be looking at other schools’ examples of sanctions for non-compliance with Title IX. He said administration will look at the sanctions within the current Student Code of Conduct and see if any changes need to be made.

He said the administration has met with Tigers Against Sexual Assault, and he suspects that STAR will meet with students to discuss the parameters of updated Title IX training.

“We need you to help us solve this problem,” Galligan said. “Students and the campus and our community, legislators, can’t help us solve the problem if they don’t know what happened.”

Members of the LSU Board of Supervisors have recently criticized the Baton Rouge law firm Taylor Porter and called for the University to cut ties with the firm.

“Taylor Porter should be let go and never hired again,” Board Member Lee Mallett told the Advocate.

Galligan said Taylor Porter law firm has “several open files” with LSU still, including a “few litigation matters” and NCAA work.

“We are considering what our relationship will be going forward,” Galligan said.

The Department of Education opened two investigations into the University’s Title IX processes following the Husch Blackwell investigation. Galligan said the University is taking those investigations “very seriously.”

“We’re going to fully comply with any requests that they make,” Galligan said. “We are complying with any requests that they make to make ourselves available and to make any documents available.”

Last fall, Galligan told the Reveille that he was interested and planned to apply for the position of permanent president. He said Thursday that he is still interested.

“Yeah, I’m thinking about it,” Galligan said.

LSU recently announced the Title IX office would be revamped and combined with Civil Rights to create a new office. Galligan said oftentimes civil rights, Title IX and ADA issues overlap, so merging them into a centralized office reduces confusion about where students should go to report those issues.

In a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, Interim Vice President for the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Jane Cassidy said LSUPD will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Title IX office. Galligan explained this requires any report of sexual assault submitted to LSUPD to be transferred to the Title IX office.

“It’s really less a memorandum of understanding as much as it is a directive,” Galligan said.

Since LSUPD officers are technically LSU employees, they are required to report any instance of sexual assault that they are made aware of to the Title IX office. Previously there was confusion about this procedure because of an obscure Louisiana statute, but the MOU formally clarifies the reporting process. Galligan said he expects LSUPD to officially sign the MOU shortly, although it has already verbally agreed to do so.

LSU previously announced that the fall 2021 semester will likely return to pre-COVID-19 operations. It is unclear at this time what COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place during the in-person classes.

“I’m hoping that we are back in class, that we are face to face,” Galligan said. “Depending on where we are with the vaccination and what the CDC says, maybe we’ll have masks on. I think hopefully the fire marshall, the state and the CDC will allow us to be physically closer than we can be now. To everyone: get vaccinated. That’s the key.”

Galligan said over 5,000 students have already been vaccinated.

“That’s our ticket to getting back in the classroom, which we plan on, and getting faculty out from behind plexiglass,” Galligan said.

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