This October, the University announced that a search committee had finally been formed to nominate the next president of LSU.
Although Interim President Tom Galligan seems to be the obvious favorite, I hope the search committee takes its responsibility seriously and considers how their presidential pick will impact LSU’s future.
In a year marked by Black Lives Matter protests, deepening financial inequalities caused by the pandemic and, more locally, the revelation of the University’s mishandling of sexual assault cases, we have seen first-hand that simply upholding the status quo is not sustainable.
Electing Galligan to be LSU's President would be the status quo pick, as he would be the latest in the University's never-ending procession of white male presidents. Although he is certainly qualified and experienced, his speedy election would throw away an opportunity to address the University's systemic issues through representation in its highest office.
After a Real Clear Education poll saw LSU rank poorly in its acceptance of free speech, many students reflected that some forms of free speech — notably, the free speech of white, conservative men — are more tolerated on campus than others. This speaks to a homogeny on campus that makes many of its students feel invisible and overlooked.
Perhaps because of this lack of administrative diversity, our University has fallen into a tiring pattern this year of ignoring student concerns, pressing forward with ill-advised decisions, meeting serious backlash, then issuing empty apologies to tide them over until the next callous indiscretion.
I know these continued missteps were not exclusively Galligan’s fault —however, I can’t help but consider him a symptom of an administration that remains disconnected from its students.
When the USA Today article exposed years of Title IX violations at LSU, Galligan announced that the University had hired Husch Blackwell to investigate LSU’s Title IX law.
Although this external investigation seemed well-intentioned, it wasn't LSU’s Title IX policy itself that was to blame for the scandal — as alumna Caroline Schroeder put it when speaking to The Reveille recently, LSU just needs to “put...in people who are going to follow that policy.”
The complicit authorities, from Coach Orgeron to Title IX coordinator Jennie Stewart, have yet to face any consequences for their inaction.
The sexual assault cases occurred before Galligan became interim president, and he alone will not determine how Title IX at LSU will be reformed. Nonetheless, the president should represent allyship to the student body, not resistance. We deserve a president who is willing to radically change the University — willing to fire corrupt administrators and advocate for students.
Galligan may just be the presidential candidate who will do this best; however, it would be a disservice to the community for the Presidential Search Committee to not review every candidate deeply before making its decision.
Instead of seeking continuity, it should look for progress. Members of the committee should ask themselves how electing the first non-white or female LSU president would reflect the University’s best values and help make students feel more included.
This committee controls the future of our University; I just ask that it takes this responsibility seriously.
Cécile Girard is a 20-year-old psychology junior from Lake Charles.