Stories that shaped Fresno State’s spring semester

Fresno State. (Jose Romo/The Collegian)

As every semester commences, students are unsure what each one entails, but no one could have predicted how the Spring 2020 semester would take shape? The last five months were eventful for the Fresno State community, and The Collegian was there to document the top stories of the semester.

COVID-19 cancellations

Bulldog Zone without students as a campus suspended in-person, on-campus classes as they begin to transfer to online due to concerns of the coronavirus on Monday, March 16, 2020. (Armando Carreno/ The Collegian)

As the world transitioned into a new decade, very few people were aware of COVID-19 as the number of cases were initially limited to a small cluster in Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei Province.

But in just a couple of months, COVID-19 sent everyone into lockdown as the virus spread across the world and became a global pandemic.

For Fresno State, the fear of catching and spreading COVID-19 grew as the first cases in Fresno County began to be reported in early-March. These reports led to the cancellation of all in-person classes, graduation commencements, athletics, on-campus activities and all Save Mart Center events in just a span of a week and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Beyond Fresno State, for the next few months shelter-in-place, face masks and social distancing became the norm for everyday life across the nation. And as of May 28, the Washington Post reported that there are over 100,000 confirmed deaths in the United States.

Get COVID-19 coverage here

Election controversy

Ruby V. Muñiz, 2020 ASI president-elect. (Courtesy of ASI)

The 2020 Associated Students Inc. (ASI) presidential election saw ASI senator Ruby Muñiz winning the election by a 631-vote margin over opposing candidates, Elizabeth Rocha Zuñiga and Naila Estrada.

But hours later, the election became shrouded in controversy. Several messages surfaced that the president-elect sent messages to potential voters offering them incentives to support her, including giveaways for a $25 and $100 Amazon gift card.

These messages led to several formal complaints being filed against Muñiz for illegally incentivizing voters, along with allegations that Muñiz had lied about her involvement in creating the Expectant Mother Parking Program.

All of the complaints were discussed and voted upon by the student court, in which they found that Muñiz violated the ASI code of ethics and recommended that Muñiz be disqualified from taking office. Following the verdicts, Muñiz filed an appeal to the student court’s decision and the matter was reviewed by Fresno State Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Carolyn Coon.

Finally, Coon found that she was guilty of wrongdoing, but allowed ASI to make the decision of how to handle the election going forward. ASI ultimately decided to hold a new election between Zuñiga and Estrada, while also barring Muñiz from participating in the new election.

According to a timeline from ASI, the election is scheduled for Sept. 28-30 and will be finalized on Oct. 21.

Read the articles chronicling the controversy here:

Kappa Sigma fraternity suspended

The Kappa Sigma house. (Courtesy ABC 30)

In March, a video surfaced on YouTube of a former student and sorority member documenting an alleged sexual assault that took place at a Kappa Sigma fraternity party on Jan. 31, which created an uproar of support for the former student.

This support led the university to take action in the days following the release of the video, as Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Carolyn Coon made the decision to suspend Kappa Sigma until Dec. 30, 2020.

Castro stated in the final President’s Forum that the fraternity is not allowed to have alcohol on the premises until May 31, 2021.

“Violent crimes of any kind, particularly sexual assault, are heinous and despicable, regardless of location and circumstances,” Castro said his official statement. “They are in direct contradiction to our university values that are based on respect for the integrity of every individual. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect and support victims of these crimes.”

Read the initial story here:

Fresno State women’s basketball’s spectacular run

Fresno State women’s basketball team celebrate their Mountain West title, clinching win in front of the student section at the Save Mart Center on Wednesday Feb. 12, 2020. (Armando Carreno/The Collegian)

The Fresno State women’s basketball team had one of the finest seasons in recent memory, as they decimated much of the competition during the 2019-20 season. After starting the season 9-4, the Bulldogs proceeded to go on a 14-game winning streak and exuded their dominance on the Mountain West (MW), winning 14 of 16 games and 13 in a row in conference play.

Led by the trio of Maddi Utti, Haley and Hanna Cavinder, Fresno State claimed the Mountain West regular-season title — the third championship in program history. This achievement led to adoration during award season, as all three players earned All-MW selections. Utti was named MW Player of the Year, Haley Cavinder was named MW Freshman of the year and head coach Jamie White was named MW Coach of the Year.

Unfortunately for Fresno State, the dreams of an NCAA Tournament appearance were dashed as they lost to the Boise State Broncos, 80-76, in overtime of the MW Championship game. This was a game marred in controversy, as the game-tying shot tin overtime was waved off by the referee, and the Bulldogs missed out on an automatic qualifying bid to the tournament.

Despite missing the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs received an invitation to compete in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament in New York City as a consolation prize, but the pandemic forced the tournament to be cancelled.

Read women’s basketball stories here:

Fresno State breaks ground on future USU

Lynda and Stewart Resnick breaking ground with their shovels at the construction site of the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Student Union Groundbreaking Ceremony at Fresno State on Thursday Feb. 20, 2020. (Armando Carreno/The Collegian)

With construction beginning during winter break in 2019, the university held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new University Student Union (USU) in February. The event was attended by hundreds of spectators, donors and university administrators.

Those in attendance for the celebration included Lynda and Stewart Resnick, owners of The Wonderful Company, who the new USU’s namesake comes from following an approval from the California State University Board of Trustees in September 2019 after a $10 million donation by the Resnicks.

The 84,000-square-foot student union is expected to host meeting spaces, dedicated spaces for clubs, student organizations and an outdoor terrace. It will also feature new restaurants with the ability to host events and provide 24-hour access for students.

Construction of the Resnick Student Union is expected to be completed in Fall 2021.

Read the groundbreaking story here:

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