I had the opportunity to volunteer as an event photographer at a UNICEF event put on by the organization’s campus initiative and Cal State Fullerton’s Planet Shakers student humanitarian advocacy group in March.
CSUF handles fee backlash well, rightly wishes to improve its tech and classrooms
The California State University has hit some hard times in the past few years, and various “student success” fees are only the most recent band aids proposed to fix a gaping hole of inadequate funds.
But after several years of frustrating (2009 tuition hikes) and confusing (Prop 30) actions, the CSU and its universities have apparently wisened up to the fact that student input should be more prominent in a tuition debate that shows no signs of being resolved anytime soon.
Cal State Fullerton – to use my alma mater as an example – spent more than a month aggressively seeking student input over its proposed “Student Success Initiative” fee, first proposed as costing students $240 each per semester to improve the university’s technology and athletics infrastructure.
The university held several open forums (which at first attracted low attendances), but the fee was eventually able to enter the student discussion due to a flashy informational website created by the university; an aggressive social media campaign; student opposition through protests and signature-gathering; and coverage by the Daily Titan, the university’s student-run newspaper, and other media.
Still, this coverage may not have helped much: The Daily Titan reported that the Student Fee Advisory Committee’s survey for students to give their feedback only received a response by about 10 percent of the student population.
Yesterday, the Student Fee Advisory Committee voted to cut the fee from $240 to $181 per student, and that the fee will be phased out over the next three years,according to the Daily Titan.
Not only does the committee deserves commendation for listening to student response, but the university should be thanked as well for aggressively trying to attract clearly uninterested and uninformed students, even adding more community forums to spread the message.
The fact is that technology does need to be vastly improved. CSUF is doing fine tech-wise now with several top-of-the-line classrooms and program offerings, but to keep that up, money needs to be maintained – money that is hardly coming from the state, as a Los Angeles Times editorial notes.
This whole situation shows me that the university is looking out for student interests in two ways:
1. That the university desires to upgrade and maintain its technology, classroom and athletics infrastructure.
2. That the university is taking students’ opinions into consideration.
Both of these are a step in the right direction, so for the sake of the next generation of college students and the impact they will have locally and throughout the state, I say we continue this improvement.
A year later, a robbery suspect who prompted an eight-hour lockdown remains at large — and unidentified
It was a cloudy winter day, nearly the shortest day of the year, and students were busy preparing for the end of the semester. A few were even cramming for finals.
That all changed shortly before 4 p.m.
It’s been a year now since that day, the December 12, 2012, “lockdown” shelter-in-place, where helicopter floodlights and SWAT teams scoured the affluent North Orange County campus of Cal State Fullerton looking for a man suspected to have been armed and involved in a pawn shop robbery.
But today, little information has reached the public as to how that man was able to skirt through the campus and apparently remain on the lam for a year.
A companion of his who also evaded the tri-county manhunt, by allegedly fleeing south from the group’s crash site at CSUF into the city of Fullerton, was caught two weeks later — 30 miles away.
Moreno Valley police Investigator Ed Rose, who is handling the case as the initial pawn store robbery occurred within his jurisdiction, has kept a tight lid on his investigation.
While contacted for comment in March 2013, he told this reporter that he would not release or discuss any information related to the case since it is an ongoing investigation.
Rose did not answer a request for comment for this story.
The at-large suspect
Various reports by authorities during the night of the lockdown included that the alleged robber may have been wearing dark clothing and that he was suspected to have possibly been armed.
However, authorities have not publicly identified him or stated if, in fact, he was actually armed or not.
It is believed that the suspect was last seen entering the Steven G. Mihaylo Hall building around 3:46 p.m. that night, according to authorities.
Security cameras inside the building show two possible people who police could have considered to be the suspect, both of whom are last seen entering the building’s south side near the Starbucks, and exiting at the main north entrance.
It is not known if either of those men were the suspect, University Police Capt. John Brockie, who commanded the police and SWAT teams’ lockdown response, said in a previous interview.
For more information on the Mihaylo Hall security camera footage that may show the suspect, read the Daily Titan’s March 2013 article here.
It appears that nothing more about the at-large suspect has been released.
He is believed to be at-large.
The four captured suspects
Of the five suspects who were involved in an armed pawn shop robbery that led one or more of the suspects to allegedly shoot the store’s clerk, three were caught that evening.
While being chased by California Highway Patrol officers, they exited the 57 Freeway onto Nutwood Ave., crashed in front of campus and fled on foot in different directions. Two were apprehended at CSUF: One near the Carl’s Jr. (pictured at right) and another at College Park.
A third was caught after carjacking another car and a high-speed pursuit into Watts, Calif.
A fourth suspect, who authorities said fled south into the city of Fullerton, was captured in Long Beach two weeks later.
The suspects have allegedly pled not guilty in court; updates on their trials are not readily available.
The social media buzz
There were more than 3,500 posts on Twitter during the duration of the lockdown that mentioned the lockdown with a #csuf hashtag.
In the first of these mentions, at 4:01 p.m., a student asked, “So why are we evacuating?”
By the time SWAT teams arrived on campus, around 5:45 p.m., there were already more than 1,000 mentions of the lockdown on Twitter with the #csuf hashtag.
Cal State Fullerton and #CSUF were trending through the night in Twitter’s Los Angeles region.
At Cal State Fullerton, the night of the lockdown paralyzed the California State University’s largest campus, as about 10,000 people were estimated by officials to have been on campus at the time.
Many were able to evacuate campus in the initial hour or so, but those who did not were put into a modified shelter-in-place.
Many classrooms were reported to have gone with minimal food and water for as long as six or seven hours, and some classes fashioned makeshift barricades to prevent the possible suspect from entering.
Many students, however, disobeyed university officials’ orders to shelter in place and left their buildings hours before SWAT had cleared them.
Overall, it is reported that emergency procedures in place on the campus — such as the blue phones, an emergency alert system and prompt evacuations — worked well.
But it is not known if the lockdown, which happened two days before the tragic Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, has impacted the campus’ police and emergency procedures.
Brockie, CSUF police’s administrative captain, declined to comment on how or if the lockdown has affected the campus and police department.
For further information on the lockdown, here is the Daily Titan’s excellent issue published the morning after the lockdown: View it here.
By Tim Worden. Published Dec. 12, 2013.
For questions or comment, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A note on the Twitter statistics: I culled through the #csuf Twitter posts a week or two after the lockdown to count how many posts were made mentioning the lockdown.
Victims and Orange County officials used a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs committee Monday at Cal State Fullerton to ask Chairman Ed Royce for more help fighting human trafficking.
“Trafficking is a global problem, but unfortunately for us not a faraway problem,” Rep. Royce said.
In the past two years, the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, a community partnership of law enforcement, religious groups and non-profits, has assisted more than 250 victims, Royce said. Ninety-three percent were women and more than a third of them were from foreign countries.
The hearing looked at problems and solutions the global, and regional, fight on human trafficking faces.
Car crash at Langsdorf Hall
Skid marks and battered orange trees mark the spot Monday morning where a driver, police say, intentionally tried to crash at Langsdorf Hall on Friday night, according to the Daily Titan.
“Cal State Fullerton Email Policy” is a bill that was never meant to be.
Its first public appearance, in a Sept. 5, 2002 Cal State Fullerton Academic Senate document, simply informs the senators that an email policy is being drafted.
Its next appearance, two weeks later, however, foreshadows the bill’s muddled future:
“The proposed e-mail (sic) policy is a collective bargaining issue and is yet to be resolved,” then Academic Senate Chair Lee Gilbert reported on Sept. 19, 2002.
Little did Gilbert know that the bill’s problems would not be resolved for another 10 years.
After those September mentions, it went dark for a year before popping up again.
Despite all the odds a bill ordinarily faces in the voting process, it was unanimously approved by the Academic Senate, CSUF’s legislative body comprised of faculty and professors, on May 29, 2003.
By the time it was approved, it had been in the drafting stages for 38 months, from a time when high-speed Internet was barely an infant.
It was sent to CSUF President Milton Gordon on June 24, 2003.
But there it waited. It waited 30 academic days to be signed — the preferred waiting period — but nothing.
There is no mention of why Gordon did not sign the bill, but the minutes of an Oct. 9, 2003, Academic Senate meeting noted: “The document passed by the Senate has not been signed by the President.”
Perhaps Gordon found the bill too obtuse: It would have allowed the university to monitor student email data.
“Account holders should not assume or expect that any use of an account is private or confidential,” the policy sitting on Gordon’s desk stated.
It stayed dead in this awaiting-signature limbo through the 2004 election, through a couple wars, and through the 2008 election.
It surfaced again in 2011, in an Academic Senate document that listed it as one of a dozen other bills awaiting signature of the university president.
President Gordon, who had been CSUF president for 20 years, announced his retirement in September 2011, and in January 2012 he was replaced by Interim President Willie Hagan.
The bill was still there; perhaps the new guy will like it more?
Hagan picked up the bill — a call to life!
But on May 25, 2012, he returned it to the Academic Senate — unsigned, just like his predecessor.
By this time, the bill had been in limbo for 9 years. What will happen? It has seen so many other bills come — the campus-wide smoking ban, the academic dishonesty policy … even its techy cousin policy, the World Wide Web policy — shedding their “ASD” (Academic Senate Document) designation for a classier “UPS” (University Policy Statement).
But not the the email policy, still technically called “ASD 03-69” after all these years.
It turns out, it didn’t have much longer to wait.
Two months after Hagan returned the bill unsigned, the email policy was again mentioned in the annals of Academic Senate meeting minutes.
The note in the August 30, 2012 minutes, from Academic Senate Chair Jack Bedell, says:
“Interim President Hagan signed several proposed policies and remanded a few as well.”
Okay, well what did he approve?
The smoking ban, the faculty office hours policy … boring, where’s the email policy one?
“He remanded … an old (9 years!) draft policy on email.”
Well, what does ‘remanded’ mean?
Remand (verb): To send back to a lower court.
With this, Hagan sent the email policy back to the Academic Senate to either be rewritten or discarded.
And so, the email policy, waiting for so long, was now dead — but freed from its desk prison, O so free!
It’s been a year, but the email policy has not been mentioned in any Academic Senate proceedings since those August 2012 minutes.
With the remanding of the email policy, CSUF to this day does not have a sanctioned email policy.
“Currently, neither the CSU or the campus actively monitors email accounts that I am aware of,” said Kerry Boyer, CSUF information security officer, whose office would have implemented the policy in its passing.
It remains to be seen whether the Academic Senate will resurrect the old bill, but who knows.
The bill’s seen a lot in the last decade, and if it’s learned one thing, it’s this:
A bill lives and dies many times, and maybe the two really aren’t all that different.
Source: CSUF, CSUF Academic Senate, CSUF Information Security Office
A tractor sits in the field near the Pollak Library and east of the Engineering Building in August 2013.
It is part of summer repairs for Cal State Fullerton, as the school is planting more trees in the lawn in the north area of campus. Other summer maintenance programs the school is working on can be found on this statement by CSUF.
Dwayne Mason faced allegations for smoking medical marijuana going to a school event
Two months after news broke that the CSUF’s student body president Dwayne Mason Jr. was subjected to a disciplinary hearing for allegedly smoking medical marijuana en route to a California State Student Association (CSSA) event, he has been appointed Vice President of University Affairs for the CSSA.
The CSSA announced on Facebook on Saturday that Mason was appointed to the executive officer position at the CSSA, a student advocacy group that serves as a student voice for the 23-campus California State University.
According to an article by my former colleague at the Daily Titan, student and faculty officials at CSUF confirmed that Mason was subject to a disciplinary hearing for alleged medical marijuana use this spring, but those officials did not say what the results of that hearing was.
Mason, then the current ASI president, declined to comment on the allegations. He did not run for ASI President for the 2013-2014 academic year and finishes his year-long presidential term this summer.
According to CSUF President’s Directive No. 1, possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages or other illicit drugs is not permitted on the CSUF campus or en route to or at any university-sponsored event.
According to the Daily Titan, the allegation that Mason had been using medical marijuana took place while driving to Sacramento to represent the university at a CSSA event, which lies under the jurisdiction of the directive.
According to the directive, “All applicable state laws will be enforced by the Department of Public Safety which will refer to the District Attorney for prosecution any student, faculty or staff member found to be in violation.”
California has laws against using medical marijuana for non-specified purposes, although the minimum punishment – for quantities less than an ounce – is an infraction with a $100 fine, according to California Senate Bill 1449.
Aside from the Daily Titan article, the university has not publicly referenced Mason’s hearing or announced the results of that hearing, which was headed by Judicial Affairs.
According to a CSUF security regulations document detailing electronic data, disciplinary actions are specified “Level 2,” an intermediate security level where the information “must be guarded due to proprietary, ethical or privacy considerations.”
Still, it seems sadly political for the former ASI president to get appointed to a highly-regarded statewide position after allegedly doing something illegal en route to one of that organization’s events just a few months prior. The university has done a good job of keeping the disciplinary proceedings under wraps, which raises the question: Why is the university trying to hide the disciplinary proceedings of its student president? His public status does not make him “an ordinary student”: he is/was the face of the students as ASI President. Privacy laws for public figures are ordinarily loosened in America, according to media law experts.
That being said, as a Daily Titan reporter, I had the opportunity to talk to Mason several times at CSUF and like how he is active within the campus community.
He told me when I interviewed him in February at CSUF President Mildred Garcia’s inauguration that he was unsure whether he would be involved in more student government roles.
“I have one more year left so I might be still involved, I might want to focus more on career, I’m still deciding that at the moment,” he said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve already had so far, and I look forward to taking that into my future.”