Inconsistencies in Cleveland State’s policies raise concern

By Mollee Ryan – Freshman Music Therapy major, Opinion editor

If you’ve been following The Cauldron at all this semester, you would know that things aren’t as pleasurable and perfect as Cleveland State University makes them out to be. As a matter of fact, it would be quite the opposite.

There have been many topics of debate covered in recent issues such as Student Life employees being totally content with breaking their own code of conduct, the Office of General Counsel disregarding public records laws and the university failing to send out safety  alerts via the CSU alert system when crimes happen on or near campus.

Students, it’s time you know. It’s time you are fully aware of what has happened and what is still happening right here on your campus. This is your college, the college you are paying tens of thousands of dollars for, and it is every student’s right to know.

Let’s start with some recaps of The Cauldron’s News section from the last issue.

Recently, one of the biggest topics of debate has been the failure of the CSU alert system. On Jan. 11, security cameras caught a middle-aged man breaking and entering on Cleveland State’s campus, using various items to vandalize up to four buildings in the university. Footage even showed the man using the hallway as a personal restroom.

No CSU Alert went out about this incident, the incident that initiated a concern in student media. Students were forced to find out details about this incident via local news stations, like Fox 8 News.

Following this event, several other crime-related activities occurred, and students were still not notified. Members of The Cauldron decided then to investigate, breaking open something in which they never thought they would have to. Students did not start to receive CSU alerts until after The Cauldron featured an article mentioning the absence of alerts in the academic year.

Whether or not Cleveland State was required by federal law to send out alerts for specific activity during that time is unclear. However, even if the university was not required by federal law to send out alerts, it shouldn’t have taken a clear-cut article from The Cauldron to get them to start sending alerts out.

Sending out crime alerts should be a common courtesy. The university should be concerned enough about safety to find it important to keep students informed of what is happening, especially living in a big city.

Another recent issue arising has been the failure of the Student Government Association (SGA) to follow their own constitution. At the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester, one of the first things SGA accomplished was ratifying a new vice president after the previous one transferred schools.

At the first meeting on September 7, 2018, the senate successfully ratified Juliana Kosik as the new vice president. However, questions regarding whether or not Kosik was even eligible to hold the vice president position began to rise. An intense investigation launched, and it was discovered that Kosik was never a senator for the 2018-2019 academic year, something which she had to have been in order to be selected as vice president.

There was SGA’s first violation in their constitution.

After more questioning by The Cauldron, SGA faculty advisor Matt Knickman said, “I think when you have a constitution, it’s an important document, but it’s always a document that can be —within structure and rules you know, I’ve seen people vote to suspend it in order to get positions filled, to not stop progress.”

Other violations against the SGA constitution include missed meetings and discrepancies in office hours.

Maybe some of you don’t care about student government, or maybe you just haven’t put that much thought into it. Put some thought into this one.

Student government at any university acts as a voice for the student body. As representatives, they are there to propose changes the student body desires and to make student life an overall better experience.

The fact that this student government is not following due process, breaking their constitution without a proper vote and allowing individuals in office who are not going to follow the rules is enraging. That is not how Cleveland State’s, or any university’s, student body should be represented. Student government should be viewed as an honor, a privilege. It should not just be a “club” that you get scholarship money from.

The third issue worth being addressed would be the withholding of public records by the Office of General Counsel. Because Cleveland State is a public university, they are required to follow Ohio’s freedom of information laws, also known as sunshine laws.

By these laws, any person can request public records from a public office by either phone, writing or email. Recently, The Cauldron found that Cleveland State has been out of concordance with the Ohio Revised Law 149.43 regarding public records.

On March 8, The Cauldron called the Office of General Counsel to make a public records request by phone. When the phone was answered, the general counsel secretary asked if the request could be made in writing instead. When denied, she asked for the request via email. The Cauldron then outlined the university’s public records policy. The secretary then asked for a fax of the request before finally taking the request over the phone.

On March 19, The Cauldron reached out to the office again for different public records. The office administrator  told The Cauldron that public records requests must be made by emailing legal@csuohio.edu. This time, even after explaining, the university’s public records policy and Ohio’s public records laws, she would not take the request, requiring an email.

The Cauldron emailed the requests, along with an explanation of the situation. Shortly after, the office administrator left a voicemail, correcting the situation and allowing for a request to be made over the phone.

Since the most recent article about the issue, The Cauldron has not been denied the ability to make public records requests by phone.

Although the university has corrected the mistake so far, the situation is still one in question. Correcting your mistakes, while honorable and respectable, does not make up for the inaccuracy, especially when it comes to something as serious as the law. It is concerning that not even executive members from the Office of General Counsel are aware of both Ohio law and the university’s public records policy.

Finally, the latest issue covered is the General Fee Advisory Committee (GFAC) holding executive session meetings out of concordance with Ohio’s freedom of information laws. Because GFAC is a public body at a public institution, Ohio’s freedom of information laws require their meetings to be open to the public, unless “the subject is specifically exempted by the law.”

But, in the March 1, 2019 GFAC meeting minutes, it was outlined that the committee voted to go into executive session to discuss budgets for the 2019-2020 academic year. The notes gave no other indication of why a  two-hour executive session was called, which is not an allowed open meetings exemption.

Think about it. The university is going behind closed doors to talk about issues that nobody knows about. What reason does GFAC have to discuss  budgeting in private, away from the public?

At this point it seems as though when one inconsistency with the law is found, more and more pop add up.

My question as a student here at Cleveland State is, how long? How long until Cleveland State owns up to their own mistakes and stops waiting for student media and other officials to point them out? Where do they draw the line?

 

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