CSULB president looks to move forward following public outcry
By Alejandro Ramos Athletics Editor
No one was physically hurt by the knife that was flashed in a classroom on February 25; instead, it was the relationship between students and administration that took a serious hit. Students are demanding answers and action against individuals with regards to “the incident”, as many have come to call it.
And so, it was a small knife which sent the school into a frenzy. President Conoley is doing what she can to undo the damage it did.
The cards are stacked against her, though. She is unable to disclose any information on the matter until Long Beach Police concludes its investigation. In addition, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, prevents her from disclosing even the name of the alleged perpetrator.
All throughout, rumors that the alleged perpetrator was related to a member of University Police fanned the flames of dissent. When it was disclosed that he was actually a member of University Police himself, students cried “cover up!”
“This situation was kind of the perfect storm to say there’s a cover up,” Conoley said.
The major complaint from students has been the lack of information and action taken against the alleged perpetrator. The inability to share any information has put President Conoley at odds with the students’ demands for action. Even when such information does become available, she will be limited to releasing the alleged perpetrator’s name, his violation, and any action taken against him
“There will be a level of dissatisfaction that we can’t outline particulars,” Conoley said.
President Conoley’s previous experience with campus crime involved threats from people that had no relation to her school; the fact that the alleged perpetrator is a student adds a new layer of complexity, due to FERPA and the student
“I have no experience with this at all,” Conoley admitted.
Still, President Conoley is doing what she can to mend the situation on campus. She has met with several groups, including Black Student Union, to discuss the incident and has spent several hours a day walking around and talking to students.
“That’s the way you build a community. You can’t do everything people want, but at least make them feel heard,” Conoley said.
Moving forward, Conoley hopes to improve the administration’s relationship with the students.
Her plan is to create a student-run committee whose focus would be to help students process and overcome incidents like these. This group would also act like a bridge between students and administration, giving the latter feedback on how to approach these types of situations. The idea for establishing this group came from one of the demands listed on a petition that gained over 1,000 signatures on Change.org.
There is also work being done to increase transparency and communication with students for incidents like these, which don’t present immediate danger to all but may still cause some sort of unrest. Conoley described it as being a step below a timely warning, in which a mass email is sent to students informing them of a situation or event relating to the school.
“I think everybody has a stake in improving communication,” Conoley said.