BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– Instead of meeting with the persons named in the $50 million lawsuits against LSU, the Senate Select Committee met with students stating their disappointments with the university on Thursday.
Mia LeJeune is one of the students who spoke before the committee. “Me and my friends from Tigers Against Sexual Assault and other students from Louisiana state university decided that we really wanted to make sure that there was an active student presence within the Senate committee hearings because far too often, it’s forgotten that LSU works for us, not the other way around,” LeJeune says.
She says the Senate Committee hearings are generally not comfortable, especially considering the topic they are meeting for, but the committee made sure students and survivors were heard.
The students we spoke to on campus said they do not think the behaviors mentioned in the lawsuit are engrained in LSU’s culture, but LeJeune says differently. “Far too often, students and their safety are the lowest priorities for our university and our administration, and a lot of times it’s under football and athletics that we’re kind of stuffed behind, and I think that it speaks volumes about the culture that we have here at LSU,” she says.
But she says the culture can change. “There are students here who are putting in so much work to make sure that this isn’t part of the culture for future students of LSU. And I’m happy to have been a little part of that change and maybe, you know, keeping these conversations going,” she says.
LeJeune believes the violence is systemic and is ingrained in the university and that LSU needs to make significant changes to address these issues.
“Removing and disciplining administrators who perpetuate violence against students” is one change LeJeune says students want. She adds, “I think that students should be the number one focus in this issue, not a brand or how the university is perceived by the media or by other institutions, but rather the students. I think that if the students are uncomfortable with someone in an office, then they shouldn’t have jobs.”
“Right now, students aren’t feeling that they are prioritized in this process. Our needs have not been heard and what we have been asking for really hasn’t been respected,” LeJeune says.
During the Committee meeting, LeJeune mentioned the university removing the blue light call boxes and replaced them with the LSU Shield app.
The university says, “The LSU Shield App is one part of our multi-faceted approach to keeping the LSU campus as safe as possible.” But LeJeune says, “a lot of students don’t have it, it’s not very user-friendly, it’s not updated as it should be, and… nobody trusts the LSU field app to actually, and effectively work when they are in a crisis.”
She believes part of the mistrust comes from the lack of communication about the app and that the user interface does not feel reliable.
Another point LeJeune made during the meeting was about the university lighting the stadium in blue. “I see where the intention is, it seemed a little bit tone deaf to the pain that students are experiencing right now,” she says.
LeJeune says a reaction she does not want to come from this situation is for the budget to be cut for the university, potentially underfunding the title IX office even more.
She hopes that in the future, the voices of students are heard and valued by the administration.
“I hope that it never goes back to what LSU considered normal, what was happening and what has been, you know, the normal for the LSU title IX office should never be acceptable again. But I hope that we find people and policies that make students feel safe again on campus,” LeJeune says.