In the wake of death threats made to La Raza Student Association last weekend on Facebook, President Jane Close Conoley sent out an email en masse Wednesday to the student body in order to address student concerns and confirm the involvement of the FBI in the ongoing case.
“This is a regrettable moment in our campus history,” said Terri Carbaugh, associate vice president of public affairs in an email. “I am unable to provide you details beyond the president’s email, as an investigation is underway.”
Although University Police Department could not comment due to the active investigation, Lt. Richard Goodwin was able to provide information on general procedure in similar situations.
“Anything that can be taken as a terrorist threat, we involve our fellow agencies,” Goodwin said. “We would seek their knowledge with regard to this to see if they have, for example, a person that we were looking at in a particular case.”
Conoley’s email cited the First Amendment as one of the great strengths of democracy, which includes protection over “hate speech.”
La Raza responded to the email on Instagram hours after it was sent out with frustration referencing a past demonstration in which CSULB mascot Prospector Pete was covered in signs protesting his presence on campus.
“This is coming from the same administration that tried to reprimand us by practicing our free speech because we weren’t doing it ‘correctly,’” La Raza’s post said.
Members from La Raza weighed in on how they felt about the email and Conoley’s overall response to hate speech.
“It’s just frustrating,” said Tanya Flores, a credentials student and member of La Raza. “We are the ones that have to deal with the consequences of empowering hate speech and lives are at stake here.”
Asia Gonzalaz, a junior political science major and member of La Raza said she was disappointed by the email but not surprised.
“It seems like administration is fearful of offending alt-right groups,” Gonzalaz said. “They are usually more powerful and more privileged. We are always the ones being criminalized.”
According to Gonzalaz, the identity of the man who made the threats on facebook has possibly been identified; however, this could not be confirmed by UPD.
Lt. Goodwin referenced protocol for a case like this, and stated that if the identity of a person who threatened another student with violence was discovered, they could face consequences.
According to Gonzalaz and Flores, security measures have increased with the appearance of a UPD officer seen patrolling the area around La Raza Student Center this week.
In the aftermath of an incident such as an online death threat, Goodwin advises students to be cautious while using social media.
“Safeguard your computer,” Goodwin said. “You have facebook accounts, just be careful about what you’re posting.”
Responding to La Raza’s concern of President Conoley’s interpretation of free speech, Goodwin said that although CSULB and UPD does not condone hate speech, there is technically nothing they can do to stop it from occurring.
“We [can’t] go out and say we’re not going to enforce these laws because we don’t like them,” Goodwin said. “We want this solved too, which is why we work so hard.”