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.