Questions have been asked regarding an incident on the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) campus on February 25, 2016. At all times, safety is the highest priority of the campus leadership and police department. While investigations are ongoing, the university is able to provide the following information.
On February 25 a faculty member noticed that a student was in possession of a small knife with a blade 2.2 inches in length in the classroom. The student was asked to leave and the class was cancelled. Shortly after, the incident was reported and the University Police Department immediately began to investigate. A threat assessment was conducted on the individual in possession of the knife, and based on the facts of the case, it was determined that a timely warning notice (see below) was not warranted as there was no imminent and ongoing threat to the campus community.
What is the campus doing about this?
Three investigations have been completed or are under way:
- Campus police conducted an immediate investigation, taking statements from witnesses.
- Independent of this action, campus administrators asked the Long Beach Police Department to conduct an independent investigation into whether any criminal activity had taken place.
- The campus initiated a student conduct investigation of the incident.
Additionally, the Long Beach branch of the NAACP also announced it has undertaken an investigation of the incident.
While investigations are ongoing, the university can only provide very limited information about the incident.
Are social media reports accurate?
Social media accounts contain significantly incorrect information. Accounts of the incident relayed through social media by those unaware of the specifics have portrayed that a white male was involved in the incident. This is inaccurate. The student in question comes from a mixed race family – one parent is African American and the other is Caucasian. The student has authorized the release of this information to clear up ongoing misconceptions about the incident. While investigations are underway, additional specific corrections of inaccuracies cannot be publicly provided. Even after investigations are completed, the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) will prohibit much from being made public (see below for more information on this).
What is a timely warning notice?
A timely warning notice is a communication sent via email to the entire campus community and posted to the university website to notify the campus community when a significant emergency or dangerous situation results in an immediate and ongoing threat to the health or safety of students, faculty or staff occurring on the campus or campus affiliated property.
What triggers a timely warning notice?
The issuance of a timely warning notice is done in an effort to protect the campus community and is required by the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1998. Any crime as defined in the Clery Act is reviewed by the university’s Chief of Police to determine if a notice is warranted because of an ongoing threat to the community.
What kind of investigations does the University Police Department undertake?
The University Police Department is responsible for conducting all criminal investigations occurring on or around the CSULB campus. The University Police Department has a memorandum of understanding with the City of Long Beach to assist on investigations if requested.
What kind of investigation does the Office of Student Conduct undertake?
The Office of Student Conduct investigates violations of the university’s student conduct policy. Per the university’s Campus Regulations, student behavior that is not consistent with the Student Conduct Code is addressed through an educational process that is designed to promote safety and good citizenship and, when necessary, impose appropriate consequences.
What is involved in a threat assessment?
A threat assessment is undertaken when the University Police are notified of an individual or situation where there may be an ongoing threat to the community. This assessment is conducted by a person assigned to the Campus Assessment Response and Evaluation for Students (CARES) team, or a trained investigator from the University Police department in their absence. Based on pertinent information and analysis, a judgement is made as to what, if any, actions need to take place. A threat assessment is not a single examination, but rather an ongoing process to see if the individual is becoming more likely or less likely to be a danger to the community. Things such as friendships, academic performance, relationships, employment and other items are reviewed periodically to determine if the person is a risk to the community.
Why is the university prohibited from sharing information about student ethnicity or disciplinary action?
A student’s education record is protected under the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Among the areas considered part of the student’s education record that the university is prohibited from disclosing without a student’s permission include race/ethnicity, gender, restrictions and disciplinary actions, family information including marital status, roommates, names and ages of children, grades, GPA, credits earned, courses taken or required to take, names of instructors for courses students have taken (or will take), subject of student’s research, admission candidacy, tuition and fees assessed, amounts paid by the student for tuition and fees, information about financial information, loans and stipends awarded to the student, international status and country of citizenship.
Are results of a police or student conduct investigation public information?
Although police reports and investigative follow-up and analysis are exempt from public disclosure pursuant to 6254(f) GC (California Government Code), specific information about the incident (as per 6254(f)(2)GC) is considered public information and will be made available at such time when it will no longer interfere with an active criminal investigation (6254(f) GC) and with due regard for an individual’s right to privacy (Article I, Section 1 CA Constitution). Court proceedings are public records. Any information pertaining to disciplinary action levied against a student is protected by FERPA and not subject to disclosure.