Louisiana Higher Ed: Crime up at LSU, tenure task force update

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Crime on the rise at LSU

New data released in LSU’s 2022 annual security and fire safety report indicated that reports of crime on campus increased from 2020 to 2021. 

Forcible sex offenses rose from two in 2020 to 13 in 2021. Burglaries more than doubled, climbing from 21 to 52, and motor vehicle thefts also jumped sharply, from two to 18. 

The data, shared in accordance with the Clery Act, a federal law that requires colleges and universities to report campus crime data. Initial data the university provided for the spring 2022 semester indicates that some of these crime trends will hold. 

In the spring of 2022, there were 13 reported cases of stalking, compared with 10 in all of 2021. Likewise, there were five instances of dating violence in the spring, down from seven the entire year before. 

The fall 2022 semester has seen several high-profile incidents on LSU’s campus, including an attempted kidnapping and a shooting during an attempted armed robbery. Complete data for the semester has yet to be released. 

The Clery Act figures do not include the death of Allison Rice, an 21-year-old LSU student who was fatally shot off campus earlier this month 

Tenure task force to meet soon 

The Task Force on Tenure in Public Postsecondary Education will likely meet for the first time Oct. 25, its chairman, Sen. Stewart Cathey, R-Monroe, said. 

The task force is charged with studying tenure policies at Louisiana’s public colleges and universities and will submit a report shortly before the 2023 regular legislative session. The committee has been criticized by faculty, who view tenure as a key component of academic freedom. 

Cathey, author of the resolution that created the task force, included language in the resolution that indicated he is concerned about political indoctrination on campus. He has voiced support for abolishing tenure. 

The task force will likely meet just three times before submitting a report, according to Cathey. 

Y’ALL means all award 

LSU Libraries received a $32,000 grant from Lyrasis to help smaller institutions digitize their collections. The proposal, entitled “Y’ALL Means All: Piloting a Distributed Digitization Program to Support Digital Diversity,” is an expansion of an existing libraries project, You Are Louisiana’s Legacy (Y’ALL). 

“While the Louisiana Digital Library does a good job of representing areas of the state with large universities and a concentration of cultural heritage institutions, such as New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette, this project will dedicate resources to filling in geographic gaps,” said Sophie Ziegler, LSU Libraries’ Head of Digital Programs and Services and one of the principal investigators of the proposal.

The funds will be used to set up a digitization hub at LSU Alexandria, which will aid smaller institutions in north Louisiana in digitizing their collections. 

Michelle Riggs Waller, interim director of the James C. Bolton Library at LSU Alexandria, said the digitization effort is an important part of preserving Louisiana’s history. 

“If we can digitize these papers from these small and community-based groups we can better tell our whole history, Louisiana’s history,” Waller said. “Future generations will look back and see the contributions of their ancestors and neighbors and they’ll know that what past peoples did was important.” 

Clean hydrogen investment 

The Beach at UNO, a research and technology park affiliated with the University of New Orleans, will be home to a $15 million facility dedicated to green hydrogen. 

The center, known as NEXUS, is funded by a $10 million federal award from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge and $5 million in state funds. The facility will host classrooms and labs as well as coworking spaces for corporate sponsors. 

“This is a critical time for our region as we take our existing expertise and infrastructure and apply them to solving our long-term energy challenges,” UNO President John Nicklow said in a statement. “NEXUS will be at the center of what could be a transformational era of investment and technological advancement.”  

Green hydrogen is a process of hydrogen creation that does not produce carbon dioxide, making it better for the environment. The green hydrogen process is considered by many to be a key part of decarbonizing the state’s industrial corridor.

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