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Sexual misconduct reporting procedures, options at Tech
Saturday, May 1, 2021
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The myriad controversies surrounding Louisiana State University’s mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints, as detailed in the widely circulated report from independent investigator Husch Blackwell, have drawn increased attention to the functions and responsibilities of a university’s Title IX office.

But despite the recent spotlight on these topics and the increasing efforts at institutions like Louisiana Tech University to educate students on sexual harassment and violence, those who undergo an unwanted sexual experience can face feelings of uncertainty regarding where to turn or what to do.

This report, the first in a series on how local campuses handle sexual misconduct allegations and how these incidents affect students, highlights the reporting process at Louisiana Tech and the options available to students who undergo such experiences.

First steps

If a victim is in immediate danger, notifying the police is the safest course of action.

Otherwise, Tech’s Title IX Coordinator Carrie Flournoy said she wants students to know her office is a good place to start, even if a victim doesn’t want to go through the formal complaint process.

“If they’re not sure, they can come talk to me, and we can discuss it and get them pointed in the right direction,” Flournoy said. “Please come talk to me. I’ll go to Tolliver (Hall), I’ll go to your dorm — wherever you need to talk, we can talk.”

Title IX is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in any program or activity at a federally funded school. While it’s often known for its governance over athletics, university Title IX offices also handle reports of sexual harassment and assault on campus as part of their mission to ensure equal access to education for all.

When someone reports an incident of sexual misconduct — anything from rape and sexual assault to stalking or other forms of unwelcome conduct — Flournoy said her first goal is to share the options available to victims and establish what sort of resolution, if any, they are seeking, leaving them in control of the situation.

“I would ask what they want to do, what they want to see happen,” she said. “If they decide to take it a step further, then we would go into the formal process in which we would have our investigators look into the situation.

“If they say, ‘I don’t want this to go any further’… we would provide them some resources. We have a counseling center with excellent counselors.”

Title IX coordinators do have the power under law to move forward with an investigation even if the complainant doesn’t want to, but only if the circumstances present a clear threat to campus safety. Flournoy said that’s an extremely rare occurrence.

Meanwhile, Tech’s Counseling Services center is another excellent, commitment-free place to start.

“If you don’t see anyone else, go see a counselor” Flournoy said.

The center’s counselors are the only campus employees who, through their status as confidential advisers, are not mandated by law to report incidents of sexual misconduct that they hear from students or employees.

“I hope students and individuals in general know there are resources available on campus that do not trigger an action,” Director of Counseling Services Ashley Owen said. “Students have a safe place to come and gather information before they ever make a decision on how to move forward.”

Tech Associate Vice President for Student Advancement Dickie Crawford said such a trauma-inducing situation can be hard to navigate for a young mind, and victims don’t have to have a clear picture of what resolution they want before they report the incident.

“We’re dealing with 18 to 23-year-olds,” Crawford said. “This is a traumatic experience they did not plan for, and they’re struggling on how to make a decision under that trauma. They need people to talk with to help them think through it and determine those next steps.”

Informal resolutions

Under new federal regulations that became effective in August of 2020, Title IX offices’ jurisdiction only extends to sexual misconduct incidents that occurred on campus or at a university event off campus within the U.S.

But those that occur off campus can still be addressed through the Department of Student Conduct’s procedures, the Louisiana Tech Police Department, or local police, depending on the circumstances and severity of the allegation.

“Ideally, everything goes through (Flournoy) initially, and she can make that determination,” Crawford said.

If the misconduct does fall under Title IX, the allegation can be resolved formally or informally.

Informal resolutions often involve “supportive measures” to ensure complainants feel safe and comfortable and their situation no longer presents a barrier to their access to education.

“That can be something like, let’s switch classes, you’ll go to a different professor if you’re not comfortable in this class,” Flournoy said. “Or we’ll find a new roommate for you.”

Such informal resolutions are up to the complainant to accept, or they can choose to move forward with a formal investigation.

Where LSU failed

The most urgent finding presented in the Husch Blackwell report was that LSU’s Title IX office was not adequately staffed or equipped to handle complaints or comply with federal law.

The flagship university employed just the Title IX Coordinator and one investigator, whose responsibilities extended not just to the Baton Rouge campus, but to all sites in the LSU system.

Meanwhile, Flournoy has two deputy coordinators in her office, and Louisiana Tech has eight trained investigators selected from campus faculty and staff.

These investigators are but one part of the larger pool of grievance process administrators who handle various functions throughout the formal complaint process, such as hearing panelists, those who serve as advisers to the complainant and alleged perpetrator, and the “decision makers” who issue the final judgment.

Both sides of any allegation are given due process, but Flournoy and Crawford said any act of retaliation, big or small, made against a complainant will not be tolerated.

“We quickly tell the alleged perpetrator and their friends, ‘If you want to get removed from school quickly, that’s the way to do it,’” Crawford said. “If you want to skip due process, we will quickly get you removed. And retaliation can look a lot of different ways, whether it’s texting or in person.”

Even with the systems and administrators that are in place to handle the grievance process, Flournoy said an expansion of the Title IX office may soon be needed to adequately comply with all the new regulations.

“If we had someone who could specifically do the trainings, maintain the pools of investigators, and get the word out on what Title IX is and how to report a complaint, if we had someone who could focus 100% on that, I think that would be wonderful,” she said.

Flournoy is an executive assistant to Tech President Les Guice and splits her duties between that function and the Title IX coordinator role.


While maintaining Title IX compliance is a large job overall, complaints of sexual harassment and assault reported to Flournoy’s office are few and far between.

There have been six total complaints over the past five academic years, none so far this year. Each was resolved informally in accordance with the request of the complainant, with none resulting in any judicial action against the alleged perpetrator or any other formal resolution.

Separately, Louisiana Tech Police reported four sexual criminal offenses on campus from 2016 through 2018, the latest years for which statistics are available as yet. Three were for rape and one was categorized as “fondling.”

While statistics vary as to the overall likelihood of sexual assault on and off college campuses across the nation, Tech officials agreed the issue is widely underreported, at Tech as well as around the country.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports 13% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.

Officials said barriers to reporting incidents include emotional hindrances like shame or embarrassment, a lack of education on what constitutes as sexual assault or where to report an incident, and victims’ simply wanting the issue to go away.

The next report in this series will provide a more in-depth look at these and other reasons why these serious experiences go underreported.

Where to go

Louisiana Tech Counseling Services

Keeny Hall room 310 | 257-2488 |

Title IX Coordinator Carrie Flournoy

257-2928 |

University Police

257-4018 | 915 Hergot Avenue