Officials Release New Details, Dispel Rumors on Knife Incident at Cal State Long Beach

Cal State Long Beach officials have released new limited information online regarding last month’s knife incident on campus as part of efforts to clear up any inaccuracies, chief among them being the race of the student who allegedly flashed a knife during a sociology class.

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The student who was in possession of a small knife is not white but of mixed race, with one parent being black and the other white, according to university officials who said the student authorized the release of the information “to clear up ongoing misconceptions about the incident.”

University officials also said the Feb. 25 incident was being investigated by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) and the Long Beach branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The university’s Office of Student Conduct has initiated an investigation to see if there were any “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,” officials stated.

Both city departments were brought on to investigate the case once it was determined the possibility of a conflict of interest, specifically through the student’s familial relationship with a university police department employee and through his employment by university police as a community service officer.

The reported incident happened on Thursday, February 25 during a sociology class, according to officials. The professor allegedly perceived a threat when the male student was seen holding a small knife measuring 2.2 inches and asked the student to leave, which he did. Sociology students reported on social media that the white male student allegedly flashed the knife in front of a black female student during a discussion.

The class was canceled and the incident was soon thereafter reported to campus police, who immediately began an investigation.

The professor, who was teaching a course on class, race and gender at the time of the incident, has taken a leave of absence. Officials could not confirm the length of the leave or if it was in direct connection to the incident. The student is still attending classes and still employed by the university police department, though he has not being given hours to work.

A timely warning notice was not sent out to the campus community because an immediate or ongoing threat was not perceived, according to university officials.

“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,” university officials stated.

Personnel with the Campus Assessment Response and Evaluation for Students or an investigator from the university police department conduct a threat assessment when there may be an ongoing threat to the community, officials said.

“Based on pertinent information and analysis, a judgement is made as to what, if any, actions need to take place,” officials stated. “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.”

During the assessment, investigators looks at a person’s relationship with others at work, school and home, as well as academic performance to determine if the person is a risk to the community.

The incident was first brought to light the week after it happened when students expressed outrage on social media at the lack of information received from university officials.

University Police Chief Fernando Solorzano told attendees of a student forum last week that the incident did not meet the requirements for notice as laid out by the Jeanne Clery Act, which mandates the disclosure of crimes on campus.

University officials warned that even after the investigations are completed, authorities will be very limited on how much information can be released.

Under the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the university is prohibited from disclosing certain areas of the student’s education record without permission, such as race/ethnicity, gender, family information and disciplinary actions.

This story was updated on Thursday, March 17 at 12:00PM. University officials have clarified that the Long Beach City Attorney's Office is not investigating the incident as they previously mentioned. 

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