Student groups and a student’s family member blasted the president of Louisiana State University after he made comments about the alleged rape of sophomore Madison Brooks, who later died, that were labeled as “victim blaming” and “disgusting.”
LSU President William Tate IV issued an email to students, which focused on curtailing underage drinking in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, specifically at bars near the campus, such as Reggie’s, a popular location for students, which was shut down by the state earlier this week.
While Tate did not mention Reggie’s by name, it was where Brooks, 19, had been earlier in the night before she died.
Brooks and the four men she was with, three of whom were underage, were served alcohol on the night of Jan. 15, court documents said. Brooks was allegedly raped by two men later in the night and then dropped off on the side of a nearby highway where she was fatally struck by a car.
Tate was then sent a letter by the College Democrats of LSU and Feminists in Action, which said that his action plan “falls short” of consoling a grieving and “fearful” student body.
“The student body finds itself sickened by this attempt to victim blame and further ignore the overwhelming violence, particularly sexual violence, we face as students,” the student groups wrote. “Instead, you chose to reinforce rape culture on our campus and in the greater East Baton Rouge community.
“While students are grieving the loss of our peer and fearing for our safety and well-being, your administration directs its attention to the underage consumption of alcohol. This response is inexcusable.”
Cody Worsham, the interim vice president of LSU’s Office of Communications and University Relations, said that Tate’s message was “directed at perpetrators and establishments that enable them to weaponize alcohol against our students.”
“The subsequent actions of the ATC on Tuesday have already helped us enact real change, and the justice system will handle the accused,” said Worsham, in reference to the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control’s emergency suspension of Reggie’s.
“Honoring Madison’s life requires us to take every possible step to protect students,” he said. “Coming down hard on bars that are serving minors in our community is one of many strategies the President is proposing. We invite the entire Baton Rouge community to join us as we unite against all forms of violence and develop further strategies toward its prevention.”
The student-run organizations were not the only ones who were perturbed by Tate’s original email.
Amy Glenn, who said her goddaughter is an LSU student who was beaten and tased by a random attacker near Reggie’s in 2021, said in an exclusive interview with Fox News that the university’s response to Brooks’ death was “disgusting.”
“There’s a total lack of acknowledging that LSU has a responsibility here,” Glenn said. “Reggie’s, a dive bar, is to blame? Maybe at some level they are, but where (in Tate’s email) is there anything that LSU is doing to help?
“While I agree that this is going to take a group of people, why is LSU not the head of this?” she continued. “They are calling on Baton Rouge businesses and citizens? How about campus police and BR police? What are they doing? Calling a meeting and passing blame?”
Glenn conceded that the blame can’t be fully placed on LSU and its administration. An area known as “Tigerland” is about a mile from campus and a five-15 minute walk back to students’ housing. The hotspot is populated by several bars, a couple of mini-marts, a liquor store and smoke shop, but it’s technically municipal property and not an official extension of LSU, although Glenn wants to see it treated as such.
While the main campus has several emergency blue call buttons dotting the area, there are none in Tigerland, which has almost no streetlights, no sidewalks, and has become populated by outside agitators.
To protect students who are walking home during bedlam, Glenn wants to see better lighting and emergency boxes installed along the walking route and sidewalks.
“The blame isn’t all on LSU, but sadly this has happened before and will happen again and again until there are large widespread safety precautions taken,” Glenn said. “There is no possible way the university can claim that they don’t know where students go to hang out and drink or where the majority of them live.”
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