Students voice concerns over ‘knife incident’

By Amanda Del Cid Social Media Manager

Demands for justice and for the resignation of Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, Jeffrey Klaus, rang out through the University Student Union Ballrooms on March 10. 

“This is the open discussion we want to have, for you to be heard,” said Dr. Carmen Taylor, Vice President of Student Affairs. Heated questioning continued on for the most part without a response from a facilitator or panel member. 

In line with demands from the CSULB Black Student Union, the female student allegedly threatened last month by the male student who brandished a knife during a sociology class on campus was in attendance and made a formal statement at the podium.

“…Can they be certain he is not a threat?” she asked. “Why is he allowed to [be on campus]? How is it safe for an alleged violent male to be allowed on campus and [into] our classes?”

“Who are you trying to fool?” said Justin Bradley, president of the BSU. “We are not stupid, don’t sit here and act like we are stupid […] come straight forward with the answers or else, like, justice or else.”

Kevin Clinton, a member of the BSU, requested that Police Chief Fernando Solorzano leave the stage and stand in the back of the room, stating that he felt “unsafe.” Solorzano agreed to appease the students but was almost immediately called back to the stage to answer another female student’s questions about campus safety.

“The conflict is that the young man works for me, he is a student and he is a [Campus Security Officer],” Solorzano said, after being prompted to clarify claims of a conflict of interest. Grunts and sarcastic laughter from the students in the audience filled the ballrooms.

Dr. Jose F. Moreno, chair of the department of Chicano and Latino Studies, was one of the few on the panel to speak, reading a written correspondence on both the department’s and his own behalf. “The department of Chicano and Latino Studies wishes to extend our support to our fellow CLA colleagues and the students who were affected by the classroom incident,” Moreno said.

The meeting ended promptly after the BSU and the Sociology Student Association stood as one group and walked out of the forum stating lack of answers to be “bullshit.”

“I don’t know how much can be answered when you have feelings around anger and hostility and lack of understanding,” Taylor said. “So, I just let it roll. I didn’t want to contain it. You gotta let it get out, so get it out. Hopefully, in the next steps we are able to do more.”

Dori Levy, mentor of Students for Quality Education and member of the Executive Board of the California Faculty Association, spoke in a small group after the forum ended saying, “...I don’t feel safe for my students. I mean, how do I know that this kid isn’t sitting there next to another student in one of my classes? I want him out. Every faculty member on this campus wants that kid out, and I want Jeff Klaus gone.”



Super Tuesday results indicate seeming party nominees

By Richard Mejia   Managing Editor

With the race to the presidency drawing sooner to the summer, the once-murky presidential election is gaining a bit of clarity. 

Following the results from this past week’s Super Tuesday primary elections, it was a forgone conclusion from the GOP that businessman Donald Trump was the eventual Republican nominee. 

With 1,237 delegates required for the nomination, Trump won most of the states on Super Tuesday and alongside Saturday’s primaries in Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine—brought his total number of delegates to 335. 

In Thursday’s GOP debates, Trump seemed to have lost most if not all of his Super Tuesday momentum as all the candidates focused their strategy in discrediting Trump. 

With Trump answering questions in response to Marco Rubio’s previous insults in regards to hand size, Trump referenced sexual innuendo on CNN’s live broadcast.  “I have big hands… trust me I have no problem down there,” said Trump. 

Trump’s inability to sternly answer questions regarding specifics to his immigration policy stifled the businessman and for the first time in this election season, Trump’s transcendent confidence withered away. It may not have seemed this way from an opinionated standpoint, but it is clear that Trump’s efforts that night fell flat and allowed Ted Cruz to decrease the margin as Cruz increased his delegates on Saturday to 248. 

On the blue side of the spectrum, Hillary Clinton is gaining steady footing as she ended Super Tuesday ahead of Bernie Sanders with 1,066 delegates to Sanders’ 432. The lead might seem glaring, but 2,383 delegates are required to earn the Democratic nomination.

“I congratulate Senator Sanders on his strong showing and campaigning and I am grateful to all of you who have voted for me,” said Clinton at her victory presser. 

Thus far, all has gone  according to plan for Clinton as she’s won the delegates from states she has been projected to win. 

To call the nomination a forgone conclusion for Clinton would be a bit of an exaggeration. With Sunday’s Democratic debate basically a head-to-head contest between the top candidates, Sanders still has an opportunity to stifle Clinton. 

With states friendlier to Sanders’ cause as well as an intriguing summer primary in California, Clinton will have to remain strong to confidently pull ahead for the nomination. 

With the GOP seeing Ben Carson drop out of the running as well as potential Marco Rubio drop out in the upcoming week, Cruz and Trump might be as close a finish as the one bound to occur on the liberal side. 

All eyes will look to Michigan this week, as the primary election in the Midwestern state can have major implication for both parties.



Students gather in mourning and unity

By Sheila Sadr   Assistant Editor

A somber mood surrounded the campus as students and staff gathered a vigil for the three black men murdered in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The CSULB Muslim Student Association held the candlelight vigil this past Thursday in honor of Adam Mekki, 20, Muhannad Tairab, 17, and Mohamed Taha Omar, 23.

Public Safety Director Rusty York said to CNN that police had “no reason to believe this is any type of hate crime or focus because of their religion or nationality”. York alluded that the killings can maybe attributed to gang related activity instead saying that the abandoned house that their bodies were discovered “had been a place where young people would go— there was no adult supervision.”

The President of MSA, Fatima Abdelhafeez, however is troubled by the lack of media coverage and social outrage. Social media hashtags like #ourthreebrothers and #ourthreeboys have gained little attention in main social media outlets. Abdelhafeez expresses how it was one of the main reasons MSA decided to come together and raise awareness for this tragedy. 

The event itself centered on lit candles outlining a heart with a poster of the hashtag #ourthreebrothers and people expressing their thoughts regarding murders in Indiana. In preparation for the evening’s meeting, MSA created a Facebook event and circulated an image with the tag #ourthreebothers attached. Daniel Diaz, an active member of MSA, helped in making posters with other.

The president of CSULB’s Black Student Union, Justin Bradley attended the event as well and spoke to the crowd. Bradley revealed that this had been the third vigil he had been to since he began his college career. He expressed his dismay over the current sociopolitical environment in the election process and discussed the significance of the black lives matter movement. “It goes to show that racism, oppression, and eurocentrism–these are realities,” said Bradley.“These aren’t things we just learn about in class. These are things we experience on a daily basis.” 

Aliyah Shaikh, the president of Interfaith Project, was also present and spoke very about an issue that often goes unmentioned in intercultural communities. “We need to stop selectively grieving,” said Shaikh. 

It is here that people from multiple backgrounds united. They came to remember the fallen, to raise awareness, and to speak out against prejudice within our society. The vigil affected everyone attending and even extended its impact passersby and faculty. Many people brought up how this had been the first time they had even heard of the deaths of Adam Mekki, Muhannad Tairab, and Mohamed Taha Omar. Members of MSA, BSU, Interfaith Project, and everyone who stood at the vigil were deeply saddened and angered by death of these men and how their passing did not garner large scale media attention however everyone also expressed a sense of hope. They felt hope in the gathering of people towards the cause. The felt the light of hope in the shadow of grief.



Panel highlights relationship topics

By Sylvana Uribe   Staff Writer

A relationship isn’t an easy venture and speakers were invited to help listeners untangle its complexities and cultivate healthier dynamics at the University Student Union ballroom on March 2.

“Let’s Talk About Relationships” marked the first event in the Women and Gender Equity Center’s “Life Hack Series: ‘Healthy and Consenting.’” The TED Talk style presentations were given by Tiffany N. Rivera of Project OCEAN, Branson Boykins of Counseling and Psychological Services, and Su Casa’s Director of Community Outreach Christina Kreachbaum.  The assistant director of Multicultural Affairs, Dr. Jonathan Higgins, later joined the panel discussion and shared lessons from his life experiences.

One of the heavier topics discussed was the recognition of red flags that may indicate a person is in an abusive relationship. Kreachbaum’s “Braving the Storm” presentation came at a time where the campus community has continued to voice its growing concerns with cases of sexual assaults. Kreachbaum is a regular speaker at university events because of her work with Su Casa, a nonprofit that assists survivors of domestic abuse through counseling and transitional shelter. 

“You’re not alone in dealing with this and you’re not alone in dealing with any other complications that arise in your life,” Kreachbaum said. “It’s great to not only find your voice, but use it and not be afraid to do that.” 

According to the WGEC’s coordinator Pam Rayburn, Kreachbaum has been instrumental in providing guidance to “Not Alone at the Beach,” an advocacy for survivors of sexual violence and misconduct. A certified rape counselor is available for survivors through crisis intervention and other support services. 

The need for finding a sense of self echoed from all the speakers, as well as keeping communication flowing and reaching out to others if needed.

“It’s all normative to have highs and lows in relationships,” Boykins said. “It’s important to have a balance of who we are and also incorporating the other person’s … interests into our lives as well, two separate individuals is not really a relationship.”

Reflecting on his take on the evening, Dr. Higgins said he saw the importance of self-reflection and how problematic it is to not call people out for their poor treatment of others.

“It’s really important for us to sometimes be selfish and say ‘how am I taking care of myself,’ but knowing that love in itself is often supportive of you being at the center of things as well,” Dr. Higgins said. 

Information regarding upcoming events organized by the Women’s Gender and Equity Center is available in LA1-102. Students seeking counseling are encouraged to visit Counseling and Psychological Services in Brotman Hall, or may access a counselor on its 24-hour hotline at (562) 985-4001.



CSULB students react to lack of communication one week after alleged violent threat

By Alejandro Ramos   Athletics Editor 

and Amanda Del Cid   Social Media Manager

Administrators at California State University, Long Beach are being put under the microscope after news of an under-reported incident on campus broke on social media, rather than through official university channels.

News of an alleged altercation involving two students and a knife in a sociology class on Feb. 25 did not come out until CSULB student Mel Gutierrez shared what she knew of it through a series of Facebook posts on Wednesday, March 2. Her posts were mostly based on hearsay, but generated a discussion that got students demanding answers. 

“The student who did this is still attending this university,” Gutierrez wrote. “Students were not notified after the event; no emails were sent out to anyone, not even faculty.” 

The university remained silent on the matter until Thursday, March 3, when the CSULB Office of Media and Government Relations released a statement on CSULB’s Facebook page about the alleged altercation.

“Since this incident took place, members of the campus community have expressed concerns about safety,” wrote Terri M. Carbaugh, Associate Vice President of Government and Media Relations. “The safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors is always a critical concern. While it was determined that there was no imminent physical threat, even the perception of a threat can cause distress.” 

CSULB President Jane Close Conoley explained that the school tends to hold back information after threat assessments come back negative. Campus leaders hold back this information from students until the event is fully investigated. “In this case, such caution caused more concern,” Conoley said in an email to Union Weekly. “Please know, however, we do this to protect both the victims and the alleged perpetrators.” 

Facebook comments by students on both CSULB and Gutierrez’s Facebook posts expressed frustration with the university’s disregard for student awareness. When the university did communicate with students, gaps of silence between statements from the administration left students with more questions than answers. 

“We get immediate emails regarding someone getting molested at an off campus party but they wait until the students themselves make it public on social media to say something about this?” Lety Perez Correa commented on CSULB’s Facebook post. 

Correa was referring to a campus-wide email sent out by the University the day after the alleged sexual assault occurred at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house, but expressed concerns with not being alerted by email about this on-campus incident until 9 p.m. Thursday, March 5—one week after it occurred. 

“What we know is that a male student was seen holding a small knife (2.5 inches) in a sociology class on February 25,” Conoley said in a campus-wide email sent out around 10 a.m. on Friday, March 4. “The professor perceived a threat and asked the student to leave. He did.”

University Police was immediately notified, but turned the case over to the Long Beach Police Department. According to Sgt. Brad Johnson, spokesperson for the LBPD, they have launched their own investigation when it became known that “a relative of the student is an employee of the University Police Department.” 

In the week following the alleged altercation, assistant professor Sabrina Alimahomed did not attend class and it is alleged by Gutierrez that she has taken a three-week leave of absence. Her students were told that the person in question had been relocated to a different class and that their class would be moved to a different building. The resolutions they were given were not enough to settle their nerves in regards to why the incident took so long to be discussed campus-wide. 

“I felt that it was something other students should’ve been warned about,” said Savannah Williams, a student in the class at the time of the incident. “Other students obviously felt threatened...some students couldn’t even come to school.”

Comments on Gutierrez’s Facebook post expressed that students were not pleased by the university’s lack of transparency surrounding the incident. They reflected confusion with the sequence of events, from the incident itself to the way it was handled.

“Has this student been expelled from the university? If not, how are we as students supposed to feel safe on campus and in classrooms?” wrote Christian Castillo on CSULB’s Facebook post. “Why was there not an email sent out regarding the incident?”

Conoley has stated that her goal is to respond to those feel this incident is an assault on their safety. 

“I’ve heard from many students, most not in that class I think, who think that their experiences of vulnerability as women of color are not recognized by me or other administrators,” Conoley said. “Nothing could be further from the truth as I know it, but I’m checking every detail of how we responded.” 

Much of the criticism coming from students is being directed at Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Jeffrey Klaus. Gutierrez claims to have met with Klaus on March 2 to discuss the issue at hand. Klaus allegedly informed her that he had spoken to several students from the class and that they weren’t too shaken up by it. 

“I have had a couple students message me [on Facebook] saying they were in that class and felt threatened...some didn’t even go to class the next day because they were too scared,” Gutierrez wrote. “So basically his evaluation of a safe environment was determined on a select few students who didn’t even know what was happening in the class at the time of the incident.”

Klaus spoke at the Sociology Student Association (SSA) meeting Wednesday night.  According to CSULB SSA’s recap of the meeting on their Facebook page, he stated that he had deemed the assailant was “‘not a threat’ because he was cooperative and has no criminal record.” He also allegedly likened the incident to another crime that occurred on campus: “There was a theft in the bookstore last week, do you need to know about that too?”  

An article in the Daily 49er defined timely warning emails to students, faculty, and staff  as requirements under the Jeanne Clery Act—an act instructing colleges funded by the government to send out information regarding on and off campus-related crime. 

“What we know is that most of the students did not see the knife,” Conoley said.  “This fact is irrelevant to any assessment of threat, but it indicates the complexity of understanding what happened.  Social media helped by making people aware of the event, but hurt by sharing misinformation.”

The misinformation Conoley referenced stems from several Facebook and Instagram posts stating that similar altercations occurred during the week the CSULB began informing students of the Feb. 25 altercation. These posts on social media have not been verified by any campus authorities. 

“We are very much still investigating the context of all the relationships in the Sociology class to understand how the experience of seeing a knife affected the Professor and a few of the students,” Conoley said.  “I see the reactions to this classroom incident as a sign of our critical need to understand the lived experiences of all of our Beach students, faculty, and staff,”

Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Carmen Taylor is leading a student forum in the University Student Union Ballrooms on Thursday, March 10  at 4:30 p.m. An email from Student Affairs was sent to all students Friday, March 4, to inform them that the forum is intended to be a place for students to “create a dialogue” and give their reactions to members of Student Affairs.

This story will be updated as more information is released. 

**Edited on March 4 to reflect new information and include President Conoley’s emailed campus-wide statement**

**Edited on March 5 for clarity and to include new correspondence with President Conoley** 

Bailey Mount, Andrew Linde, Lauren Hunter, Matt Gozzip and Katie Cortez also contributed to this report.


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