ASI: Sex offender resolution rejected

Fresno State’s Associated Students, Inc. senate rejected a resolution Wednesday that aimed to promote the disclosure of the identities of registered sex offenders on campus.

“I just do not see the necessity of this resolution as it pertains to the college campus,” said Daniel Ward, senator-at-large for academic affairs. “We do not have the authority to change a law. The intention is in the right place. But the fact of the matter is, we’re not going to be able to do any legal processing of this. It is not our place for it.”

Since the passage of California’s Megan’s Law in 2004, the public has been able to view information on sex offenders required to register with local law enforcement.  The law allows a person to use information from the website only to protect a “person at risk.”

Under the law, only law enforcement officers can make information available to an entire community.

While the resolution does not have the power to change the law, it lobbies for everyone from Fresno State’s Academic Senate to President Barack Obama to rewrite or adopt legislation that “in the very least, affirms that the issue of registered sex offenders being present on college campus communities must be dealt with [by] open disclosure.”

Neil O’Brien, senator for the College of Health and Human Services, said he wrote the six-page resolution in an attempt to protect students at Fresno State.

“If a criminal is required to register as a sex offender, they’re required to register because there’s a need-to-know basis,” he said. “There’s a need for closer monitoring of these kinds of people, especially considering the rate of re-offense.”

But not all of O’Brien’s fellow senators agreed. Six ASI members voted against the resolution, while four voted for it.

Kaitlyn Sims, senator of the Craig School of Business, voted against the proposal because she said it might infringe on the constitutional rights of registered sex offenders, who she said are a protected class under the U.S. Department of Labor.

“How does this [resolution] avoid discriminating against what is now, in the federal government’s eyes, a protected class?” she said. “If we’re ruling this, we are discriminating against a class that we’re presuming will be re-offending. In essence, we’re basically saying that they’re guilty until proven innocent.”

Additionally, Sims and other ASI senators feared that identifying sex offenders on campus might trigger violent backlash against them.

“My concern is the possibility of negative action against anyone whose information is posted,” Sims said.

O’Brien said that violent reactions are not the goal of the resolution.

He said that the resolution exists merely to say there is a reasonable need to disclose information that might protect women and children at Fresno State. He emphasized that it is not a call to hunt down registered sex offenders.

O’Brien also added the resolution does not infringe on the constitutional rights of sex offenders because it simply makes information about them that is already available more accessible.

“The current process is long and arduous,” he said. “It makes you jump through too many hoops to get information that you have a right to know.”

Budget changes for the 2013-2014 academic year

Kate Tuckness, the controller for Fresno State’s Auxiliary Corporations, which provides accounting and financial services for ASI, explained Wednesday how the budget is different compared with the 2012-2013 school year.

She said that while most fluctuations were insignificant, there are a few noticeable adjustments this year.

“I noticed the university donations went down significantly,” Tuckness said. “But last year we had the memorial fountain and more designated funds toward the laptop program than we have this year, so that’s why we have fluctuations.”

She also added that ASI’s club accounts decreased $10,000 this year from $176,232 in 2012.

Additionally, only $250,000 of ASI’s total budget will be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) this year. She said that previously the insured amount was unlimited.

Tuckness said that the significant decrease is due to FDIC bank failures.

ASI Bucket “Thirsty Thursday”

ASI’s executive committee will be hosting an event at the Bucket every first Thursday night of the month for the next three months.

On Wednesday, the senate voted to call the event “Thirsty Thursday.”

Rebecca Rosengarten, ASI vice president of finance, said that the event is a social gathering where any student can come and speak with ASI members while enjoying food and drinks. She said the event aims to encourage open communication between students and ASI in a casual atmosphere.

  • Dan

    Glad sanity reigned.

    I’m all for campus community safety. But the concerns the senators quoted in the story had were mine too. Plus where do you stop? Do you publicize the names of students who are street gang members because they “might be” a threat to campus safety too?

    Chief Huerta said to me a couple of years ago the University sees getting an education is a path out of poor circumstances and anyone is welcome as long as they behave themselves. The Chief assured me he and his officers know who everybody is and keeps an eye on things. I have no fear that, if a specific individual was a concern, the University Police would release that information to the community within legal guidelines.

    Beat Boise!

  • I find it ironic that Neil O’Brien is involved in this so deeply, considering how he had his own battles with the college recently. It seems O’Brien has a history of whining about his own rights while seeking to silence groups he doesn’t like, like Hispanics. I’m amazed he is still in school considering he threatened two faculty members a couple of years ago. Does Fresno State have a graduate psychiatric program in need of a guinea pig? Because O’Brien would make a prime candidate.

  • Michael

    What a ludicrous proposal. There are very few reports of sexual assaults by registered sex offenders on college campuses throughout the US, and the recidivism rate for registered sex offenders is below 10% over a 20-year period. Most sexual assaults on college campuses involve unregistered offenders who are known to their victims. Why isn’t the ASI be pursuing the same effort with regard to people convicted of violent crimes, or theft, or drug dealing, or other behavior that could also be a threat to students? Why only this one category of crime? I submit that this proposal is not about protecting anyone is all about hatred for a class of citizens who have paid dearly for their crimes and are now trying to rebuild their lives. Mr. O’Brien needs to behave like an educated person and look at the research and the evidence before making such proposals, rather than letting his prejudices and hatred control his decisions.

  • yvette

    another misinformed legislator. Re-offense rates are the lowest of any criminal. They average around 8%. We have over prosecuted and hysterically punished even 8 year olds (why would you put an 8 year old on the registry and destroy his life when he is just curious about his body?)

  • Neil Pastor

    Neil O’Brien should find a country where he fits in better. Educated people don’t support the Sex Offender Witch Hunt. That’s the realm of the vast majority of Americans with IQ < 100.

  • Renifer

    If Neil O’Brien is willing to submit to the same polygraph examination given to sex offenders and have the results be published in a public forum, then by all means, let’s have a vote on his sponsored legislation.

    My guess is that he would scoff at the idea, to which I would reply “Neil, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, take the test.”

  • Neil Pastor

    Additionally, O’Brien is wrong about a “right to know”. If people have a “right to know” about people who have committed sex crimes then I have a “right to know” about anyone who has committed any crime – by the same means as is done for “sex crimes”. That means get the rest of the Registries created yesterday or stop talking about “sex offenders” and how all this BS is for “public safety” and all those other lies. People like O’Brien have exposed their true motives.