BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The death and alleged rape of LSU student Madison Brooks has many of her classmates frustrated by the university’s focus on underage drinking instead of sexual assault prevention. It has sparked a conversation on campus about consent.
Over a week ago, Brooks, 19, was allegedly raped in a car before being dropped in an unfamiliar neighborhood and then hit by a vehicle. According to police documents, Brooks’ blood alcohol level was nearly four times the legal limit and there was THC in her system.
It was later revealed that she left the Tigerland bar Reggie’s with four men, three of which were underage. (Two are accused of raping her, and the other men have been charged as principals to the crime.)
LSU President William Tate’s message to students said in part, “Our action plan starts with a deep and relentless focus on any establishment that profits off our students by providing alcohol to underage individuals.”
But students feel too much emphasis has been placed on the underage drinking. President of Feminists in Action at LSU Myrissa Eisworth said she was surprised that the message wasn’t more focused on the sexual assault.
“It was extremely shocking to me that, that was his takeaway from the situation was the underage drinking,” Eisworth said. “That is not the main thing that happened to her and what really put her in danger.”
College Democrats of LSU advisor Cooper Ferguson joined Eisworth in demanding change from LSU leaders.
“We need him to bring us into the room and have an honest discussion,” said Ferguson.
They are calling on Tate to renew the contract with the organization Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, better known as STAR. President/CEO of STAR Morgan Lamandre said they have the tools to support the university.
“Although obviously there has been some underage drinking, and that needs to be addressed, we shouldn’t look at that as being the sole responsibility, or the sole cause what happened,” said Lamandre.
Although LSU provides sexual assault prevention training, Lamandre said many students might be more willing to trust an outside source.
“When you have everything housed inside and there’s already been a lack of trust and there is some institutional betrayal,” Lamandre said. “Even if the training they are providing is good, they’re going to be met with some suspicion.”
STAR issued a statement in response to the tragedy.
We are saddened to hear about the horrific events leading to the tragic death of Madison Brooks.
We are also disturbed by those in our community who are placing blame almost entirely on businesses serving alcohol to minors rather than on the perpetrators who raped her.
Alcohol is not the cause of rape.
Perpetrators use alcohol as a weapon to facilitate rape. If someone who was not a rapist had taken Madison out of the bar on January 15, 2023, she likely would have been brought somewhere safe – and would still be alive today.
Safe communities start with consent.
This legislative session, we will be advocating for policies requiring education about consent and healthy relationships in K-12 schools. Collective grief and outrage can produce actionable change. Sexual assault is a preventable tragedy that should never happen, and we will continue to do our part to create a safer community, free of sexual violence.
As our city grieves and information unfolds, please reach out to STAR, an organization you trust, or someone you feel comfortable talking to for support during the difficult time of processing this event. We can be reached 24/7 at 1-855-435-STAR.STAR
Interim Vice President of the LSU Office of Communications & University Relations Cody Worsham said in a statement, “President Tate’s message Monday 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.
“Honoring Madison’s life requires us to take every possible step to protect students. Coming down hard on bars that are serving minors in our community is one 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.”