Like many University students, Sidney Slater wanted to study abroad. However, Slater’s interest took a dark turn when the LSU Study Abroad Scholarship program paired her with her future stalker.
Slater, an English junior, signed up for the LSU Study Abroad Scholarship program to earn points that transfer into funds for international research-related activities. The program pairs domestic LSU students with international students, and encourages them to interact in a meaningful way.
“They said they had a lot of older, master’s degree students, and most of them were male,” Slater said. “I thought, ‘I really want this scholarship, this doesn’t make me uncomfortable, it’s fine.’”
Slater partnered with a 26-year-old Nigerian master’s student named Nnamdi. At the time, Slater said she assumed Nnamdi was closer to her age, so she brushed it off as an innocent crush whenever Nnamdi made advances on her roommate.
“I took my roommate along for the first few meetings because he was this 6’7 guy and a complete stranger,” Slater said.
Slater’s roommate quickly noticed Nnamdi’s oddly long handshakes, prolonged stares and unsolicited compliments and declined any future meetings. However, Slater wanted to earn points for the program and was determined to stick it out for the rest of the semester.
Slater and Nnamdi’s future meetings took place in neutral locations. The two were sitting on the Indian Mounds when Nnamdi reached over and tried to grab her hand, multiple times. Whenever Slater pulled away, it would take only a few moments for Nnamdi to try again, Slater said.
After a few minutes of this, Slater abruptly stood up and announced to Nnamdi that she was going to spend time with her boyfriend.
For their next meeting, Slater brought Nnamdi to the most innocent place she could think of - church. Nnamdi still managed to make her uncomfortable during their short drive from Edward Gay Hall to Christ the King Catholic Center by asking if she would like to kiss.
“Immediately I said ‘no,’ and I got really offended,” Slater said. “He had the audacity to look hurt, like I had done something wrong by denying him.”
Slater firmly informed Nnamdi that the Study Abroad Scholarship “wasn’t a dating program” and reminded him that she had a boyfriend. At the end of the mass, Slater decided to leave without bringing Nnamdi home. She wrote him a text telling him she didn’t feel like he respected her boundaries, and she was going to look into finding different partners for the program.
Nnamdi responded by insisting he respected her boundaries, and that he did not want a different partner, Slater said.
A few days later, Nnamdi emailed Slater asking her to forge a letter confirming his substance-abuse therapy counseling attendance. The Director of Study Abroad Scholarship informed Slater there weren’t any alternate partners available, but encouraged Slater not to respond to Nnamdi’s email.
Slater was sitting at work a week later when she received a phone call from Nnamdi. When she didn’t answer, she was subjected to dozens of paragraph-length text messages.
“It was all in the span of ten minutes,” Slater said. “It seemed feverish.”
Nnamdi’s text messages apologized for asking Slater to forge the letter, and admitted "I just wanted to see you. I just wanted to be with you. I really fell for you hard."
Also in these messages, Nnamdi confessed, "I went to jail for going after a girl, but I don’t care. I’m not from here. Anything can happen to me. I just want you to be my girlfriend."
All of Nnamdi’s frantic messages went unanswered. The next time he contacted her, Slater decided to get a restraining order.
She went to the Office of Domestic Abuse in the East Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse and started to fill out paperwork. The woman who was helping her saw Nnamdi’s name on the form, and reportedly called over her supervisor and said, “It’s that dude again.” When Slater got to the portion of the form that asked if the perpetrator had a violent history, she originally left it blank because she was unsure, but the woman reached over and checked the "yes" box for her, according to Slater.
“That really freaked me out,” Slater said. “I asked if he also had a history of sexual abuse, but they told me they weren’t allowed to disclose that information. Which made me think he probably did.”
Slater continued with her daily life but felt unsafe knowing her stalker lived on campus. She mentioned a few times in their conversations where she stayed on campus, so she stayed with her parents and friends until the court could get her a permanent protective order.
The one-year-long permanent protective order prohibited Nnamdi from going near Slater’s residence at East Campus Apartments unless he was walking to and from classes.
Slater said she also went to the Student Office of Accountability, filed a police report with LSUPD and pursued a Title IX investigation so there would be repercussions for Nnamdi on campus. Nnamdi was found in violation of Title IX, and is suspended from the University for as long as Slater remains on campus.
Slater thought the nightmare was over until she started receiving calls from Nnamdi last month. The calls came through at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. every few days.
About a week after Slater started receiving those calls, Slater’s roommate saw Nnamdi outside of their residence, according to Slater. Slater’s roommate filed a police report, but ECA’s faulty security cameras left no evidence.
Slater said an LSUPD officer reportedly informed her that no one wanted to allocate funding for security camera maintenance, so the main purpose of the cameras is to serve as a deterrent. Overnight police officers patrolling the area had also recently been removed due to budget cuts.
“The whole reason my parents pay for me to live on campus is because they think it’s safe,” Slater said. “They think there are police officers. They think there are cameras that work.”
Director of Academic Programs Abroad Harald Leger said he was not able to comment on specific situations, but that APA takes any case they become aware of seriously and follow up within all LSU guidelines, rules and regulations.
“The program is designed to heighten cultural awareness and promote global learning,” Leger said. “We will continue to work hard on giving all participants the tools and guidance they need to participate safely in the program.”
TIX Investigator Jeff Scott said TIX policies operate on “fifty and a feather” certainty, giving more weight to the testimony of the victims than the perpetrators. He said students may have better luck with results by filing Title IX reports rather than filing police reports since Title IX requires less evidence and often produces quicker decisions.
“Our procedure is more an administrative procedure,” Scott said. “We have a lot more things that we can do. Our number one priority is to stop the harassing behavior, then we can offer victims support services, and finally, we want to prevent the incident from reoccurring.”
Support services can range from victim counseling to class changes and housing changes. Scott said whenever it is decided a Title IX victim needs to relocate, the logistics are then handed over to Residential Life.
Slater and her roommate relocated from ECA to a different residence in the middle of the school year, an event which Slater described as a “huge disruption.”
Title IX can implement no contact orders, like the one Slater had with Nnamdi, but cannot enforce consequences.
“That is processed under student conduct, so it would be something that I would refer to SAA,” Scott said. “They would be the individuals that would take care of any time of adjudication for breaking out the no contact order. We do not do the discipline.”
Slater complimented Title IX investigators and APA for the way they handled her situation. She was mainly disappointed in the lack of security and the lack of enforcement of the no contact order.
“There were a lot of really helpful people in this time, but the system fell flat for me,” Slater said. “I really appreciate what SAA did for me last year, but on the University level, I’m really upset. Why are our students not being kept safe? I think the University needs to be held accountable.”