Students and faculty alike have criticized Cal State Long Beach administration and police for a lack of transparency after various controversial incidents this semester. In the last month, the Daily 49er has made numerous records requests that have gone unfulfilled – characteristic of the recent complaints.
A student either “held” or “brandished” a knife in a classroom during a debate about whether racism in the workplace is a problem for black women, which he argued is not.
A sexual assault was reported at a Kappa Sigma party over Valentine’s weekend this semester. Following the report, administration initially yielded to the Kappa Sigma nationals’ authority in investigating and suspending the chapter. It is still unknown as to how the entire situation was resolved – if it has been.
A man who served time in prison for drug-related charges in 1995 was punished again for the same crime when CSULB Police Officer I. Sanchez pulled José Sandoval over for a busted headlight and subsequently held him in the CSULB substation for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to come and deport him.
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Each of these incidents involve conflicting accounts, and the university’s failure to be transparent leads to further obfuscation of facts. Transparency is crucial to ensure that the university is acting in the best interest of students and faculty and is able to be held accountable.
The California Public Records Act, signed into law in 1968, was designed to give the public access to information in possession of public agencies and ensure that public officials do not operate in the dark, outside the realm of public supervision and consent.
During the second student forum on March 23, University Police Chief Fernando Solorzano said he was willing to turn over the “uncut audio” of the Feb. 21 arrest that resulted in Sandoval’s deportation, so the Daily 49er immediately put in a request to get a copy. There are inconsistencies between what Officer Sanchez wrote up in his police report and what Sandoval and his son say happened that night, which the uncut audio could clear up.
It has now been over three weeks since the Daily 49er’s initial request for the audio of the arrest and two weeks since a spokesperson for the university confirmed the University Police would make the audio available. Five subsequent requests to various administrators and university police have yet to be honored.
In the digital age where hours-long audio files take only minutes to copy and send, this is unreasonable.
The Daily 49er also made multiple requests for information after a reported sexual assault that took place at a Kappa Sigma “Lace and Lust” party Feb. 13-14. Director for Student Life and Development Brett Waterfield became difficult, if not impossible, to reach and failed to provide the risk assessment report, as promised.
In another instance, the CSULB administration and records department have failed to turn over emails exchanged between President Jane Close Conoley and Solorzano, Dean of Students Jeffrey Klaus and Vice President for Student Affairs Carmen Taylor regarding the Feb. 25 knife incident — a matter of public record — within the 10 days accorded to them by law.
In the aftermath of the knife incident, the University Police and administration failed to notify the campus of what happened, failed to reveal the source of UP’s conflict of interest from the outset and have repeatedly said they would not share any disciplinary information about the student with the knife, incorrectly citing federal law in order to justify their refusal to divulge information.
After 23 days, the records office finally acknowledged receipt of the request and said the university’s lawyers are working out which emails they will withhold and which they will turn over.
The Daily 49er has also asked for all records of incidents in which someone was detained by University Police on campus while awaiting an ICE pickup.
With over 600 undocumented students at Cal State Long Beach and several other first generation students with undocumented families, it’s important to know whether, when and to what extent ICE officers have a presence on campus.
Article One of the Declaration of Rights in the California Constitution states: “The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.”
The way CSULB administration has been acting blatantly turns away from this statute and keeps vital information as far from the realm of public scrutiny as possible.
We are here to report the facts and inform the community of exactly what has happened, what is happening, what will happen and why.
But, until the administration gives us all the facts entitled to the public by law, there is no way for us to do that. Without these records, all we have on our end are uncorroborated stories, unanswered questions and a series of brick walls preventing us from doing anything to forward fair and honest reporting.
Editor’s Note: After the publication of this article, CSULB Associate Vice President of Legislative and External Relations Terri Carbaugh said that she would provide the audio recording from Sandoval’s arrest.