The most recent LSU Title IX Biannual Report on Power Based Violence showed nearly three times as many complaints filed than in the previous report.
The report, which covered the period between October 2021 and April 2022, included 182 complaints, almost three times as many as the 63 included in the previous report, which covered the June to September 2021 period.
The increase in complaints can be attributed to a number of factors, explained Jane Cassidy, Interim Vice President for Civil Rights & Title IX. One of the most obvious explanations is the time periods the two covered, with the October report compiling data from three months between June 29 and Sept. 30, while the April report covered six.
“The October report included (a) significant time period during the summer when there are limited students on campus,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy indicated that the increase in reports is a good sign.
“More people (are also) reporting because they know where and how to report and trust our office will handle the cases appropriately,” Cassidy said.
LSU’s Office of Civil Rights & Title IX released the report in accordance with state law law which requires a biannual report from higher education institutions detailing reported incidents of power-based violence.
The report consisted of an itemized list of all complaints received by the office between Oct. 1, 2021, and Mar. 30, 2022. The report, available via LSU’s website, explains the status, nature and the type of complaints that were received.
Another factor that Cassidy contributes to the April report’s statistics is the increase in people reporting because of mandatory reporting requirements.
According to the university’s Title IX office, if a complainant tells a mandated reporter that they have been a victim, they are required to report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator. They must also report if they are a witness to or have knowledge of sexual misconduct affecting LSU students or staff.
Mandated reporters include faculty, deans, instructors, residential advisers, coaches, graduate teaching assistants and administrative staff.
“If you have knowledge and do not report, you may be terminated,” the Title IX mandated reporter guide reads.
The addendum to the report categorized the type of behavior at the basis of the claims. It is noteworthy that in some reports, more than one type of power-based violence is alleged, bringing the total number of behaviors to 193 over the course of six months.
The largest share of the reported behaviors, in 25 percent of reports, was forcible rape, reported 49 times. Other behaviors included 28 incidents of dating violence, 23 incidents of sexual harassment, 23 incidents of stalking and 18 incidents of hostile environment harassment.
Ninety-one percent of complaints, 165 incidents, were closed without any disciplinary action on the respondent, the party the complaint was filed toward.
The main reasons cases were closed, the addendum identified, were threefold: a lack of response from the complainant, only supportive measures to prevent future harassment being taken or the complainant requesting no further action.
These three reasons make up the top 82 percent of complainants that choose a path of no investigation, with no response making up 74 of the 165 closed cases.
As of the report’s writing, 52 sexual assault cases were closed, with 23 of them consisting of the complainant not being responsive to outreach and 17 closing due to the complainant requesting supportive measures only.
During the period, nine formal complaints were filed, with six that were still in the investigation phase as of April 24 when the report was written. Two were closed via informal resolution and one was closed because the complaint concerning the incident was withdrawn.
The biannual reporting process, as well as the attached addendum, Cassidy explained, holds universities like LSU accountable for their handling of Title IX and other power-based violence cases.
“This data will help us look at our processes to continually reflect on how we can improve, and also provide evidence over time if our prevention education and training are helping in reducing the number of incidents if sexual assault, harassment and discrimination,” Cassidy said.