Student-led protest demands LSU to support and believe sexual assault survivors

LSU’s Feminists in Action and Le Cercle Français student organizations collaborated to host a protest in direct response the French Studies Department's mishandling of sexual assault and harassment complaints. News reporter Maria Pham follows the footsteps of those seeking change once again.

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On Oct. 18, LSU students on a bright day purposefully walked from the Parade Grounds to Hodges Hall. 

What one group had in mind was to have their concerns publicly heard.

LSU’s Feminists in Action and Le Cercle Français student organizations collaborated to host a protest in direct response to the allegations of sexual assault and harassment against LSU’s French Studies Department. 

With their signs in their hands and their voices echoing in the Quad, students sought the demand for LSU to “support and believe survivors.”

An article in the Advocate published on Oct. 5 revealed LSU’s French Studies Department’s mishandling of complaints toward a serial predator within the department.

“There needs to be less trauma,” Mildred Methvin, a lawyer, said at the protest. Methwin represents six Jane Does in a Title IX case against LSU.

“Predators must be stopped before they act.”

This protest is roughly one month earlier than what would be the anniversary of FIA’s 2020 protest on Nov. 20. The previous protest demanded LSU take responsibility for covering up sexual assault cases within its athletic department.

“LSU has shown us they prioritize their public image over their student body,” Annie Sheehan-Dean, a FIA member, said to the crowd. “We want institutional and cultural change.”

After the protest, Hodges Hall’s entry doors were locked. LSU PD was on the scene. While campus offices close at 4:30 p.m, campus buildings normally remain unlocked. 

When FIA were asked about knowledge of what may have caused Hodges Hall to be locked, the president said, “The group that went into Hodges was not affiliated with FIA, nor were their actions endorsed or encouraged by FIA.” 

FIA’s Treasurer Marina Bianchi said LSU is not the only campus having protests concerning this matter.

“It speaks to a larger rape culture that’s present in our society,” Bianchi said.

FIA is currently coordinating a panel discussion with LSU’s Office of Civil Rights and Title IX. The objective for both parties is to increase transparency and awareness of how sexual misconduct is handled at the University. Details are to be announced.