Cal State Long Beach officials said they are in the process of changing the university’s weapons policy, after a number of individuals expressed concern in the days and weeks following an incident in February, during which a student displayed a knife in class.
CSULB President Jane Close Conoley told a group of demonstrators who marched from the Speaker’s Platform to Brotman Hall, outside her office, Tuesday afternoon that knives will no longer be allowed on campus under the new policy, which would go into effect in the fall semester.
The demonstrators were led by a new group called We Are CSULB, which is comprised of various student organizations including the Black Student Union, La Raza Student Association, Muslim Student Association and more.
The group, about 50 students and non-students, were there to announce their demands following the Feb 25th incident, which involved a male student displaying a knife in a sociology classroom. Campus police later told students in a forum that the student was employed by the university as a community service officer and was a relative of a CSULB Police Department employee. Because of the conflict of interest the investigation was turned over to the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) which recently presented its case to the city prosecutor’s office for filing consideration.
The group’s demands include the expulsion of the student and the firing of Dean of Students Jeff Klaus, in part for comments he allegedly made during a meeting held after the incident. According to students at that meeting, Klaus said the student was cleaning his fingernails with the 2.2-inch knife and said because the incident was not an imminent threat university officials did not issue a timely warning bulletin.
Conoley has previously stated that she does not plan on letting Klaus go.
“I support Dean Jeff Klaus and he will not be fired, nor will he be asked to resign from employment with the university,” Conoley said in an email sent to student leaders on April 1.
University officials have since taken disciplinary action against the student and said he is no longer employed as a CSO.
Protesters also called for a student oversight committee for risk assessment, in response to what they feel was a lack of transparency on the university’s side with regard to the knife incident—though officials said the incident did not require a timely warning bulletin because it did not follow guidelines for the Clery Act. Other demands included the creation of murals on campus, a safe space for cultural organizations and racial sensitivity training for campus community members.
Organizers also called for CSULB to “eliminate all ties with I.C.E., in response to their collaboration with the campus police department in the detainment and deportation of a local community member,” a press release from WeAreCSULB stated.
In that Feb. 21 incident, campus police were following orders by the federal agency to detain the undocumented driver who was wanted for an aggravated felony. Officers had made a traffic stop for a broken headlight near the Beachside College Residence Halls that night when they pulled the man over, acccording to CSULB spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp. During a warrant check, they came across a bulletin by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who then asked for police to detain him. The man, who is not connected to the university and who does not have children who are current students of CSULB or Long Beach City College, was deported a few hours later.
“This is the only time we have had an interaction like this in 25 years,” Uhlenkamp said.
CSULB currently has up to 900 students who identify as undocumented and the university has a Student Success Center that caters to their needs, Uhlenkamp added.
“The university’s support for helping undocumented students achieve a college degree is unwavering and The Beach remains a safe environment for all students and their families,” Conoley said in an email to community members concerned over the incident.
Toward the end of the demonstration Conoley invited student organization leaders and non-students to speak in private regarding their demands.
According to CSULB spokeswoman Terri Carbaugh, who also attended the meeting, both groups agreed to continue to talk and work on finding constructive solutions.
Currently, blades under 2.5 inches are allowed under the state penal code, though education codes ban knives.
University police recently arrested a student who was in possession of two knives that exceeded the legal limit.