Campus, News

Student with knife revealed to be community service officer

Update: March 11, 7:42 p.m.

The student who displayed a short knife in a sociology class on race, class and gender did so while his group was standing to give a presentation to the rest of the class, according to CSULB President Jane Close Conoley in an email to the Long Beach NAACP chapter President Naomi Rainey March 9.

The 20-year-old male holding the knife was doing so from behind another female student. When the professor saw the knife, she tapped the student on his shoulder and asked him to exit the classroom with her. Once outside, she told him he could not come back. According to the email, he did not argue and subsequently left.

“Our understanding is that only the professor and one other student observed the knife,” Conoley said in the email. “The rest of the class was unaware of the knife, but did see the effect on the professor and some became concerned.”

The professor has experienced significant anxiety as a result, according to Conoley.

After the police arrived, they interviewed students and witnesses. The student in possession of the knife claimed that he was cleaning his fingernails and “did not intend to threaten or harm anyone.”

“The male student was assigned to another class,” Conoley said. “All his other professors were told of the incident and all indicated they were willing to keep him in their classes.”

There are currently three entities investigating the incident: the Long Beach Police Department, the campus Judicial and Ethical Development Office and the NAACP.

 

Updated: March 11, 10:55 a.m.

The student who brandished the knife to a female classmate Feb. 25 is a CSULB community service officer, according to Chief of Police Fernando Solorzano Thursday at a student forum.

“That young man,” Solorzano said. “He works for me, he is a student, and he’s a CSO.”

Solorzano told this to the crowd of more than 150 students and faculty gathered in the University Student Union Ballroom.

The forum was facilitated by Vice President of Student Affairs Carmen Taylor for students to “share [their] concerns with campus leadership.”

Students and faculty were in an uproar when Solorzano announced the 20-year-old student worked for the campus police. Originally, the University Police reported to the Daily 49er that the student is a relative of someone in the university police department.

According to University Police, it referred the call to the Long Beach Police Department due to the “possible conflict of interest.

“The Long Beach Police Department is assisting in the investigation,” LBPD Public Information Officer James Richardson said.

Some students believe that the incident was racially motivated, saying on social media that a white male student threatened a black female student with the knife. The race of those involved has not been confirmed by the police or the university.

A student wearing a bulletproof vest speaks at a forum hosted by CSULB administration March 10 in response to an incident Feb. 25 where a male student who is also a campus security officer brandished a knife at a female student in a sociology class on race, class and gender.
Yasmin Cortez | Daily 49er
A student wearing a bulletproof vest speaks at a forum hosted by CSULB administration March 10 in response to an incident Feb. 25 where a male student who is also a campus security officer brandished a knife at a female student in a sociology class on race, class and gender.

“I want to know when this white boy is going to be expelled from school,” student Malia Blake said. “What are the steps we need to take? This is a race issue and I don’t know why this isn’t being presented at the moment.”

Mel Gutierrez, a student in the sociology department, questioned the validity of the investigation and how they came to the conclusion that the male was not a threat.

“I want to know, how many people did you actually interview in that classroom?” Gutierrez said. “And if it wasn’t all the students, how can you be sure the male is not a threat and allow him to continue to attend classes?”

According to Solorzano, the police did a full assessment of the student to find he was not a threat.

“We were able to find and go through our data systems to do a complete assessment of this person,” Solorzano said. “We know that he was not on the loose and was not a threat to our campus community.”

Before the forum started, the victim who remained anonymous came forward to tell her story about what happened in the race, class and gender class where the incident occurred.

“I experienced fear, anxiety, sadness and anger,” she said. “This happened in my race class and my gender class where students come together to share statements, challenge each other’s ideas and be able to discuss.

“On Thursday Feb. 25 that was not the case,” she said. “I am one of the faces of the knife incident, and I will speak on my truth in a formal statement to be released soon. I owe it to myself and the students that are concerned.”

After about an hour of students voicing their frustrations, the Black Student Union and students that attended the forum walked out due to what some called an unstructured event.

“What’s important to know is we have students confessing their lives and their stories and there’s no administration,” Justin Bradley, CSULB Black Student Union president said. “Who are we speaking to? The podium is empty. You’re not listening to them.”

Black Student Union students stand at the front of an audience of about 150 during the student forum March 10. The forum was hosted by CSULB administration March 10 in response to an incident Feb. 25 where a male student who is also a campus security officer brandished a knife at a female student in a sociology class on race, class and gender.
Yasmin Cortez | Daily 49er
Black Student Union students stand at the front of an audience of about 150 during the student forum March 10. The forum was hosted by CSULB administration March 10 in response to an incident Feb. 25 where a male student who is also a campus security officer brandished a knife at a female student in a sociology class on race, class and gender.

“Why isn’t President Conoley here?” Bradley asked. “Understand the emotion in the room and then you have a president of the university who doesn’t have the goddamn audacity to be here, are you kidding me? Why is the central person overlooking this campus not here?”

CSULB President Jane Close Conoley did not attend the forum. Conoley walked over to the forum around 5 p.m. but decided not to enter.

“When I arrived the discussion seemed quite energetic,” Conoley said in an email. “I made a decision that if I entered the room, any progress that might be ongoing in moving the conversation to problem solving would be lost. I thought that students involved would feel the need to start their planned remarks from the beginning thus robbing the forum of needed time and direction.”

Conoley said she remained in contact with members of the administration who attended the forum.

Conoley said she is aware that the student was a community service officer.

“This process is best done when all sides are allowed to speak,” Conoley said in an email Friday morning. “When all accept the need to allow investigations to be completed before discipline is levied, and when we aim our anger not at individuals but on changing systems and structures that interfere with student success.”

The administration assembled a panel of professionals to answer questions as best they could.

“They can’t answer those questions [about the incident] because they could potentially jeopardize whatever it is that LBPD is doing,” Uhlenkamp said.

Some of those in attendance demanded that the student be expelled and demanded Dean of Student Jeffrey Klaus resign immediately.

Chair of Chicano and Latino Studies Jose Moreno read an email to the crowd and said he was there in solidarity with students as they move forward in their quest for action and answers.

“It’s always amazing to be in the midst of people exercising their power,” Moreno said. “Exercising their voice.”

While the forum allowed students to voice their opinions and concerns in an allotted two-minute time frame per speaker, the event lost its structure once it was announced the student was a CSO officer.

“I think a lot of feelings had to get out,” Taylor said. “ I don’t know how much can be answered when you have feelings around anger and hostility and lack of understanding. 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.”

BSU students stand at the front of the audience at a student forum March 10. The forum was hosted by CSULB administration in response to an incident Feb. 25 where a male student who is also a campus security officer brandished a knife at a female student in a sociology class on race, class and gender.
Yasmin Cortez | Daily 49er
BSU students stand at the front of the audience at a student forum March 10. The forum was hosted by CSULB administration in response to an incident Feb. 25 where a male student who is also a campus security officer brandished a knife at a female student in a sociology class on race, class and gender.

Students weren’t the only group to voice concern after the incident. Dori Levy, member of the executive board of the California Faculty Association and mentor of Students for Quality Education, also spoke.

“I have to say, I don’t feel safe,” Levy said. “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 justice.”

This was the first of a series of forums that Taylor will be facilitating. The next event will be Wednesday March 23.

Yasmin Cortez and Ariana Sawyer contributed to this report.

Story has been corrected to indicate the student’s official title. The student is a Community Service Officer.

 

 

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Shame on President Conoley.

    President Conoley is now using this current climate of student unrest to redirect legitimate student outrage at her administration mishandling of this incident toward the faculty and their union (see her email below). What an opportunistic political move on her part. This is so disrespectful to the students and the faculty.

    Since when does a faculty strike endanger the safety of anyone on campus? A bunch of professors holding signs asking for a measly 5% raise puts absolutely nobody at risk. Students are not stupid.

    What a slap in the face to all the students of color who have REAL concerns over physical safety, climate, and their overall well being on this campus with a racist mascot.

    War is Peace (I mean, “Go Beach”)
    —–
    President Conoley’s political letter to the “campus community”

    Dear Campus Community,

    As you no doubt already know, the California Faculty Association (Unit 3) has called for a five-day strike, April 13-15 and April 18-19 if current salary negotiations with the CSU are not resolved. While I am of course saddened by this action, I fully support our valued faculty members’ right to strike.

    Safety is always this university’s number one priority. If in fact there is a strike, my primary role and goal during the identified strike days will be to work hard to ensure a safe environment for all faculty, students, staff, visitors, contractors and vendors.

    We will be open during those five days, and Beach faculty, staff, students, and visitors are most welcome. Non-faculty staff members are expected to be present, and I will be on campus throughout the potential strike.

    I respectfully ask that faculty members inform their students about whether or not to attend regularly scheduled classes during the strike. Such communication will be vital in helping students plan their travel to campus and their academic activities.

    Students, please ask for input from your professors about scheduling changes during the strike. Also, if appropriate, keep your parents or other guardians informed so they don’t suffer anxiety about your safety. You will be safe.

    For our represented staff not involved in the strike, please consult and follow the specific language that is part of your collective bargaining agreement with the university. You are free, of course, to join a faculty picket line or other activity during your usual break times.

    As we approach April 13, we will begin sharing regular updates on our website, as well as via the university Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can also send questions at anytime to FacAffairs-Info@csulb.edu.

    Faculty, you are my important colleagues today and you will be my important colleagues during the strike and after it is over. I know that while you will act to amplify your message, you will do so in a manner that preserves the integrity of those involved and the university’s commitment to safety and security for all.

    I trust as well that each faculty member’s right to participate, or not, in the strike will be honored by all other faculty as well as students and staff. Collegial relationships should not be sacrificed by differences of opinion about participation or the underlying issues. Our connections are critical to personal well-being and to the vitality of our university, today and into the future.

    Jane Close Conoley, Ph.D.
    President

  2. Avatar

    Wow. I’m saddened that this happened in my department! As a Sociologist, I want to say people make mistakes! We should all forgive our enemies who have hurt us. I think the people are trying to get “justice” for the ” victim is doing it, for the fun if it! And want to see , how far this “racism” as you people call it, will get the attention of others. I think this is getting out of proportion. The ” white boy ” as you people call him has a name ! Yes, we all get it, he brought a knife to school ! So what ?! Get over it !! He should be given another chance! The professor, and the guy who brought the knife should get another chance ! Thank God, NO one was hurt !!! We may not understand why he did that, maybe he has , PSDST, Depression or Anxiety! For the woman who was the victim, I am deeply sorry thank God you weren’t hurt physically! Therefore, we have health services available for everyone who has been assaulted. I as a survivor, going to see a psychologist has helped me mentally and emotionally!
    So I suggest stop this nonsense, and move forward to help each other out ! Out in the world, there are bigger issues to solve instead of complaining for this small one!!

    • Avatar
      Joshua Kaanaana

      Violence and racism on campus sound like pretty big issues.

    • Avatar

      as a fellow sociology major, you should probably pay more attention in your sociology classes if you don’t see how this fits in in areas of systematic racism and anti blackness.

      • Avatar

        Black people always make themselves the ” victims” and bring the social movement # black lives matter. Or bring up the past about their ancestors being slaves. I understand, that America was founded with white men ! But throughout the decades America has progressed for Black people to have rights .Everyone will always be racist to someone else’s culture ! This is the world that were living in . Like get over it ! The only difference that we can make is be the bigger person , be different, with others , respect them. If we do this , others will see the difference that we can make in others people lives . They will want to be like us , and they will do the same !
        Lastly, for your information, I got a 4.01 GPA in sociology! I know what sociology is all about ! I just see it, in a different way ! I swear people should just stop this nonsense, like the “white boy” as you people call him didn’t go , and all killed all the black people! No one got hurt .

        • Avatar
          Rico Suave

          Just because you got a 4.01 GPA doesn’t mean you ‘get it’. Please post some links to comment threads where you are such a vociferous advocate for minorities in this same situation. If the person had PTSD or extreme anxiety then then most certainly shouldn’t be an active Campus Safety Officer. People make mistakes yes, but there are consequences for those actions. Do you think the victim can return to class and feel safe now? What about all of the other students in the class that no longer feel safe? Do their rights not count as much? And finally using your logic, as long as no one gets hurt it’s OK to threaten violence? I hope if you are ever threatened with a knife on campus you “like get over it”.

    • Avatar

      Elvia, how the heck can someone call themselves a sociologist and then tell black people to “get over it.”
      No, they will not get over it, they and other people of color are oppressed in this country Every DAY. And who is doing the oppressing??? Are black people just moping around and calling themselves victims and making police officers kill and harm innocent people of color? No.
      The csulb body is outraged, as they should be, because this is another example of institutional racism. Hopefully, since you’re a sociologist, you know what that means. IT MEANS THAT INSTITUTIONS ARE SET UP IN A WAY THAT PROTECT WHITE PEOPLE FROM CRIMES AND GETTING AWAY WITH CRIMES AGAINST MINORITIES. THIS IS OBVIOUSLY WHAT IS HAPPENING .
      and I also suggest you take a history class because this country wasn’t founded by white people. It was founded by native peoples. This was their land. WHITE PEOPLE CAME HERE THINKING IT WAS INDIA, LIKE IDIOTS, KILLED, RAPED, ENSLAVED, AND STOLE EVERYTHING FROM THEM. and then they put their fancy flag on this country and made a couple laws so that they could still legally kill, rape, and enslave minorities.
      Youre such a dissapointment to the sociology department.

  3. Avatar

    What is the make and model of the knife that this student brandished? Is he an EDC’er? And why does the campus president, who is supposed to Lead, run away when the conversation gets “energetic”? Is Conoley the president for only *some* of the campus, but not others? The administration is sitting on so much info that it does not want to release about sexual harassment, about racism, and about safety on this campus.

  4. Avatar

    “this white boy…” wow let me guess what the person who said this would say if someone said, “this black boy.” No surprise to see the over-reaction and call for anyone who is not black to get suspended, expelled, fired, pilloried.

    What is extremely telling however is the use of language and how it is unacceptable if used in the other direction.

    • Avatar

      because black men do not get away with these acts. let’s not act like that’s not the case. systematic racism is way different than someone being offended for being called white.

  5. Avatar

    Another case of university students trying to bully faculty out of their jobs. Wait for the facts to come in before labeling the incident as racist. I am not saying the incident was appropriate in any way and there should be disciplinary action taken, but get the FACTS first. Stop rallying people up over an assumed narrative.

    • Avatar
      Reginald Nobles

      The kids are frustrated.
      Remove the race factor and just focus on the act of brandishing a weapon in the classroom and a student fearing for their life from this assault. All of sudden that’s Ok in our classrooms?!?! No! It is not Ok. And the lack of response from administrators is poor performance. When a sexual assault happened off campus I got an email alert. No alert about an assault on campus. Why?!? Something wrong is going on. If I was in my early 20’s I would be upset and protesting as well. In fact I want to leave my workplace right now and support students express their disapproval of the way this is being handled.

      • Avatar
        Joshua Kaanaana

        Race is an important factor because White people are very much the dominant power in this country and state. It has been several weeks since this incident and you are still requesting that people wait to call it racist when the students and the victims have had no recourse, no answers, and a lot of concerns. While you roll your eyes at those of us concerned with racism on campus, especially in the context of how and when this incident happened, there are still students out there concerned they are being targeted or in danger because of the color of their skin.

  6. Avatar

    this event was poorly organized by CSULB administration. Dr. Carmen Taylor set a bad tone and talked condescendily to the mostly Black students at the event before finally abandoning her role as the supposed ‘moderator.’ A number of stuff remains unanswered:

    Why have previous reports only stated that the conflict of interest was only that the alleged perpetrator was “related to a person in campus PD,” only now to reveal, TWO weeks later, the alleged perpetrator is actually an employee of campus PD and a paid Campus Safety Officer CSO.

    This is outrageous. This means this individual’s job is supposedly to escort women on campus? Question- did this individual work after February 25th in his job as a Campus Safety Officer?

    Let’s call for an overview of the CSO system & not accept this corruption. The BSU & the sociology club should offer night time escorts instead of the CSO’s!

    Was the knife in question actually issued by the campus police?

    i heard, Chief Solarzano was not working the day of the incident, yet the campus police had already determined that “no crime had been committed” on that very day.

    What did Tom Malizia (judicial affairs) determine from his investigation?

    Today at the forum, Chief Solarzano also stated at this meeting that campus PD “could not locate the victim”. What??? What is he talking about??? This is false, the alleged victims DID talk to campus PD on February 25th. If more than one women have made statements to the cops that they felt unsafe due to the incident, why was an alert not issued?

    The campus community deserves to see these police reports!!

    #nosilence

    • Avatar

      Carmen, was a horrible person to choose. While students poured their Hearts out she stepped down and was laughing and joking about the matter. She had no interest in solving anything. One would expect that as a black woman should be able to relate. Or her being a woman in general I appreciated the staff that was part of the panel but it doesn’t make a difference if they are all supporters, nothing is going to be resolved. This is an embarrassment and as as someone who was clearly aware of the requirements of how long a knife should be the university as acting like this nothing. I hope something comes out of this.

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