LSU at Night

Tiger Stadium and the bell tower stand tall Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020 from the top of the Barnes & Noble at LSU parking garage on E Campus Drive.

University's administration, LSU Athletics, former President F. King Alexander, former Athletic Director Joe Alleva, former Football Coach Les Miles, Interim President Thomas Galligan, current Athletic Director Scott Woodward, current Football Coach Ed Orgeron and current Tennis Coach Julia Sell have failed at protecting their students. 

These individuals all hold various amounts of responsibility for the athletic department's and the University’s inexcusable handling of sexual assault allegations over the last decade. 

Yet, this list is not exhaustive. As investigations continue, and more facts come out, all who are found to be complicit with the culture of covering up sexual assault must be publicly named and reprimanded.

All faculty who work directly with students should be mandatory reporters. All mandatory reporters who failed to do their job must be prosecuted. All individuals found to be complicit deserve to have their names dragged through the mud for the horrors they have allowed. They chose self-preservation over student protection.  

Officials outside of the athletic department have played key roles in allowing this culture to exist. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III is directly responsible for pressing charges against these offenders. Moore's office cannot be allowed to let sexual violence be swept under the rug. 

An internal investigation must only be the beginning. Tangible steps are required; and administrative review is essential for creating a culture based on integrity and prioritizing students' well-being over institutional interest.   

No student was surprised by the article or the news surrounding these incidents. We’ve known all along that the University has turned a blind eye to those who needed its protection the most.

The LSU community must come together to guarantee we make the changes necessary to eliminate the culture that has permeated this campus for too long.

This isn’t just a football problem or an athletic department problem. It isn’t just a Greek life dilemma. Campus sexual assault is an student issue that affects the entire University and it is time we treat it like one. 

The victims are students. Students who might not be old enough to buy a drink, a pack of cigarettes or a lottery ticket. They go to classes and eat in the dining halls. 

They've had to figure out how to study for their tests, finish their homework and testify for their Title IX cases. They were questioned and subjected to a bureaucratic process by an institution they thought was supposed to protect them.

Yet it seems only some students were protected — and not the victims.

Sexual offenders are still allowed a place on this campus as students. They walk through the Quad without fear of who may be on campus and who they might run into. Coaches and other officials chose the side of the offenders. The administration turned its back on the victims.  

Those individuals made the decision to assault others; institutions in society decide what will happen afterward. This University and the surrounding community have created an environment wherein victims of sexual violence are blamed and perpetrators are protected. 

Sweeping changes are required to fix the incredibly pervasive and disgusting culture festering on this campus.

As students, we must hold our peers and classmates accountable. Accusations of sexual assault must be taken seriously and victims must be supported when they speak out. 

This must mark the start of healing, not hiding. 

The University is at a crossroads. Administrators can continue to act like nothing is wrong on this campus. They can continue to ignore students who have been raped and assaulted. They can continue choosing self-preservation over student protection — or they can make the changes needed. 

Sexual assault is a pervasive issue, not constrained solely to this student body or this University — but it has surely found a home here. Students at this school deserve to feel safe and heard, and we can’t do it alone.

Cory Koch is a 21-year-old political science major from Alexandria. 

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