LSU has refused to renew the contract of Sexual Trauma and Response (STAR), the organization that provided sexual assault and harassment awareness training to university employees following multiple cases of violations of federal law Title IX.
STAR is a Baton Rouge-based nonprofit organization dedicated to building a sexual assault-free community. Its employees help shape legislation, provide legal services to victims of sexual assault, and provide training to local entities.
LSU has been engulfed in a scandal following a USA Today investigation report in November 2020 which showed how the school had mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct. The university’s subsequent internal investigation, conducted by the Husch Blackwell law firm, revealed a number of institutional issues regarding Title IX failures, leading LSU to hire STAR for training.
Title IX is the section of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational setting that receives federal government funding.
Public documents obtained by the Louisiana Highlighter show STAR has been called upon to hold a number of workouts in the two years since the USA Today report, including for his athletic department, the College of AgricultureLSU libraries, student life and the French department.
The most recent training, in the spring of 2022 for the French department, followed reports that indicated Head of Department allowed a graduate student accused of multiple sexual misconducts to continue working with undergraduate students. STAR provided two 1.5-hour sessions on collective trauma management training, conducted a cultural assessment of the service, conducted two additional 1.5-hour customized training sessions, and provided coaching and mentoring. supporting department heads in dealing with workplace culture change and sexual harassment prevention efforts.
While STAR’s work with LSU began after the scandal broke, the organization also provided proactive training to make the college campus safer.
Tanya Rawal, STAR’s vice president of social change, said LSU had already paid STAR to create a proposal for the work they would be doing this college year, but then informed the organization in late July that it would not be renewing. his contract.
Rawal said the STAR program for this school year is aimed at addressing sexual assault on college campuses. The focus was reportedly on training teachers on ways to incorporate discussions of sexual violence into their curriculum. Rawal said she had attended similar training at other schools and found it to be effective.
“You can talk about bringing data science into these conversations about sexual violence,” Rawal said, using a math professor as an example. “It’s very helpful if we can use data and different number patterns to show the data to the public…because people need numbers to understand the problem as it is.”
Rawal said the teachers she spoke to were looking forward to the training.
LSU told STAR his services were no longer needed because the university had hired more people into its Title IX office, according to Rawal. The Husch Blackwell report recommended a complete overhaul of this office.
LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard reiterated that reasoning in a statement.
“Over the past 18 months, the university has built a strong Civil Rights and Title IX office with 12 staff members on the main campus, including a permanent vice president responsible for inclusion, civil rights and of Title IX,” Ballard said. “Our staff, all of whom are trained in this area, will provide the campus with guidance, resources and training.”
Rawal did not find the explanation satisfactory.
“In our heads, we’re kind of like, you have 30,000 students and people, like three people in an office, they’re not going to solve the problem,” Rawal said. We are going to be a community effort.
Rawal said she fears the end of the partnership now means that all the progress STAR has made on campus is lost.
Emily Hebert, an LSU student involved with Tigers Against Sexual Assault, an organization that partners with STAR to fight sexual assault, expressed her disappointment with LSU’s decision.
“As someone who has taken a STAR course, I find their process informative and helpful. I think it could have been very helpful for LSU staff to participate in the course that STAR was producing,” Hebert said.
LSU will continue its partnership with STAR on other projects, Ballard said. LSU lists STAR as a resource for students on several of its web pages.
STAR also represents students who file Title IX complaints with LSU, assisting students throughout the investigation and resolution process.