The ink had not dried on this writer’s opinion piece last week before news surfaced in Baton Rouge that there’s another scandal brewing at LSU, but this time it’s not a football player or coach or former university president who’s in the hot seat.
Instead, it’s the illustrious chancellor at the LSU medical school in Shreveport who apparently has joined the ranks of those who may or may not have crossed the proverbial line in behaving in an uncivilized fashion when dealing with women. Oh, Dr. Ghali E. Ghali, where art thou?
It was just a few weeks ago that LSU unveiled a roughly 150-page report on the university’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations levied by female students who experienced unpleasant encounters with LSU football players as well as a former head football coach. The Missouri-based law firm Husch Blackwell conducted the review for LSU, which now supposedly serves as a guide for how the university must deal with sexual misconduct allegations going forward.
The Husch Blackwell report remains red-hot. Not only did the law firm’s findings cost former LSU football coach Les Miles his job at the University of Kansas, on Tuesday Oregon State University announced its president, former LSU President F. King Alexander, had resigned amid a contentious atmosphere stemming from the fallout over Husch Blackwell’s bombshell. Alexander, you may recall, served as LSU’s president when much of the sexual shenanigans occurred at Louisiana’s flagship university.
While it appeared early last week that LSU was en route to containing the public’s outrage over the Husch Blackwell report, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate reported on March 16 that the LSU Board of Supervisors possessed a separate report based on a job performance review of Ghali, the chancellor at the medical school in Shreveport. According to a few members of the LSU board and others, the report contained allegations of sexual discrimination by Ghali while three sources who spoke to The Advocate said Ghali made sexist comments to female employees that could be perceived as sexual harassment. Two other sources said the report included specific incidents logged by four unnamed nurses.
The Advocate requested copies of the complaints against Ghali and his performance review, but LSU, in its infinite wisdom, has yet to release them.
Last week while he was still trying to hang on to his job in Oregon, Alexander made some disparaging remarks about LSU and Louisiana in general in a public meeting of the governing board at Oregon State. He also told the folks at Oregon State that during his time at LSU, the LSU board exhibited a bad habit of meddling in athletics and in so many words, Alexander suggested the LSU board didn’t give two hoots about academics, the latter remarks being entirely believable and perhaps entirely accurate.
LSU officials didn’t take Alexander’s comments lightly.
In a blistering letter to the chairperson of the Oregon State University Board of Trustees, the chairman of the LSU board, Robert Dampf, took issue with Alexander’s characterization of his time at LSU and his dealings with the LSU board. The stinger raised by Dampf, though, was the revelation that Alexander was twice invited to meet with Husch Blackwell’s attorneys to explain his side of the story, so to speak. Instead, according to Dampf, Alexander chose to answer Husch Blackwell’s inquiries in writing through Oregon State’s general counsel.
In other words, Alexander ducked a thorough vetting of what he did or didn’t do about sexual misconduct on the LSU campus.
Dampf’s letter to his counterpart at Oregon State was rich in contradicting Alexander and no doubt was intended to undermine Alexander’s credibility, assuming he ever had any. The letter should not be overlooked either, especially if one were interested in reading hypocrisy at its finest. The hypocrisy, my friends, can be found in the first paragraph of Dampf’s letter in which Dampf wrote that “transparency is required for rebuilding trust (at LSU)....”
Perhaps someone should remind Dampf that it was LSU which fought tooth and nail to shield a police report from the public about a star running back for the Bayou Bengals sexually assaulting a young co-ed. Worse, LSU didn’t believe the victim should have an unredacted copy of the complaint either.
Perhaps someone should remind Dampf as well about the Miles report. Remember? It was the Husch Blackwell law firm that unearthed a secret report about Miles behaving in a manner with student workers at the LSU football office which required Miles to sign a settlement stating he would clean up his act or else.
If Dampf or any other decision makers at LSU are truly serious about transparency, they should make public the report on Ghali immediately including copies of the complaints against Ghali for allegedly behaving like a heathen. Assuming Ghali insists he’s innocent of any wrongdoing, he too should demand that the report be released forthwith.
All of this raises a simple question.
What is LSU scared of?
Are we going to learn Ghali did not behave like a gentleman in his interactions with women at the LSU medical school? Are we going to learn LSU officials were aware of the allegations against Ghali and did nothing about them? Are we going to learn someone at the governor’s office — perhaps the governor himself — was fully aware of the allegations against Ghali and did nothing about them either?
This mess — another one — can easily be cleared up if LSU would simply release the report on Ghali to the public and let the chips fall where they may. While we’re at it, a forensic audit of the medical school’s finances would be in order as well.
Yet, you’ve got to hand it to LSU. At the Ole War Skule, engaging in a cover up is as second nature as hollering Geaux Tigers.
At least that’s the perception of it all. And as we all know, perception is reality.
Sam Hanna Jr. can be reached by phone at 318-805-8158 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.