I Love My Sisters More Than My University
Updated: Jun 29, 2021
by Nathan Long
As someone who was raised in a household full of strong women, the recent Title IX allegations against LSU have caused me great distress and anger.
My mother was the breadwinner of the household, easily taking home triple what my stepfather earned. With my mother’s help, I avoided going into debt through my undergraduate career.
Nearly all of my aunts are similarly responsible for most of their family finances.
Furthermore, all three of my sisters are athletes; one excels at volleyball, another at gymnastics and another at basically every sport she plays, and I expect her to continue her athletic career in college.
This is why the recent allegations of Title IX abuse by the LSU administration troubles me more deeply than any college scandal I’ve seen.
Throughout my life, I have developed a deep love for the Bayou Bengals. Growing up in Southeastern Louisiana, most people assume you will attend LSU if you plan to go to college. The culture often views people who attend other, in-state schools like Tulane or University of Louisiana-Lafayette, as the odd-balls, and even those who attend other schools emphatically and religiously cheer for the Tigers.
I was no different. I bled purple and gold. I cheered as LSU won the football National Championship in 2007, and I cried as it lost in 2011. Since I could walk, I wanted to walk across the stage at LSU for my diploma. Since I could talk, I wanted to loudly sing the alma mater in Death Valley.
Now, however, my love for the jewel of Baton Rouge has soured, especially related to what I love most: athletics.
Multiple articles and reports have revealed the depths of which LSU’s athletic department has ignored and covered up sexual assaults and harassment perpetrated by athletes and coaches.
In late 2020, USA Today detailed an article on LSU’s mishandling of multiple sexual misconduct complaints. The article tells the story of multiple female athletes who accused former LSU running back, Derrius Guice, of rape and sexual misconduct. The writers also detail the numerous, similar allegations against wide receiver Drake Davis that also went ignored.
Many of these allegations were made by female LSU athletes. These women should feel protected, as they are ambassadors of the university. Instead, they lived in fear, knowing any accusation they made could be dismissed immediately.
LSU doubted the accusers every step of the way. It did everything in its power to protect Guice and Davis from any punishment, according to the article.
Is this what my sisters have to look forward to?
USA Today revealed much later that former head coach Les Miles conducted himself inappropriately with female assistants, which resulted in a mere slap on the wrist. He was a winning football coach at the time, and clearly that was more important to the administration than any sexual deviancy.
I looked up to Les Miles growing up. He seemed like a decent man and it appeared he represented the university well.
I was dead wrong.
A report by Husch Blackwell, a law firm specializing in Title IX law, revealed even further failures of the administration to properly conduct and investigate allegations. The report found the Title IX department at LSU to be understaffed and underfunded.
LSU seems fine spending money on a lazy river on campus in the shape of the school logo for all the football recruits to “ooh” and “aah” at.
But apparently funding a department to ensure your female athletes are treated fairly and properly was just a little too expensive.
LSU officials promised, following the revelation of these failings, to make significant changes to the Title IX department.
However, I don’t believe them.
I am sure in the short term they will make changes to the system as a way to save face. However, in the long term, little will change.
They appear to be sorry they got caught. One of the victims of this process said it best:
“You are not here because of the goodness of your heart,” Caroline Schroeder, an LSU alumna who dealt with the ineptness of the Title IX process after she was sexually assaulted in 2018. “You are here because a national newspaper published a story,” she told LSU officials.
It is fairly easy to tell LSU is not serious about protecting their female students and changing the Title IX problems. It is clear by the utter lack of significant penalties for those involved.
The only two people punished by LSU were top athletic officials, Verge Ausberry, who was suspended 30 days without pay after he mishandled the Drake Davis case, and Miriam Segar, who was suspended 21 days, also without pay, after she botched the Derrius Guice case.
Two of the most important people regarding the failures of the Title IX office essentially received an extended vacation as their “punishment.” Once their suspensions end, they will be free to return to their high-paying jobs.
Other universities are the only ones taking action for LSU’s failings. Oregon State University fired F. King Alexander, who had been the LSU president. Les Miles was relieved of his head coaching job at the University of Kansas.
Why are other schools holding people accountable for LSU’s failings?
This fiasco is extremely embarrassing to me, a rabid LSU fan and supporter, as well as numerous other students, faculty and alumni.
My colleague at KLSU, Logan Cullop, described how embarrassing it is for her to be at a school that is currently embroiled in the biggest sex scandal since Pennsylvania State University’s Jerry Sandusky’s sordid misconduct a decade ago. The LSU affair has deeply affected her thoughts about the university.
“It’s embarrassing,” Cullop said. “As a woman, I can’t believe my university would do some of the things they did.”
Another colleague at KLSU, Tyler Viso, described how he has been more hesitant to wear LSU merchandise, especially when he leaves Louisiana.
“I’m worried what others who just hear the news might think,” Viso said.
I tend to agree. I love my university, as it has given me four of the greatest years of my life. With law school imminent, I hope it gives me three more great years.
However, this scandal has irreparably changed how I view this university. I can’t help but ask the questions, “Do I want my younger sisters to attend?” or “Will I want my future daughter to attend?”
Currently, I do not think I would.