Administrators discuss police policy and other student concerns

Administrators met with students Tuesday, Dec. 2 to discuss guidelines for students to record campus police investigations and faculty diversity, among other issues.

Fernando Rodriguez, a junior, asked what policies are in place for students to record campus police during investigations for the students’ legal protection.

Rita Colucci, chief of staff and general counsel, said that in general, there a lot of polices and certifications to follow by police. “There is a state law that talks about not being able to record unless you have permission.”

Susanne Conley, vice president for enrollment and student development, added that in light of a recent student complaint there is an internal investigation ongoing.

“The only policy that I know of,” said Conley, “is if they choose to record, they ask the student if the student minds being recorded and the student can always deny or allow the recording.”

Conley said the police department should make it clear what the policy is.

Dale Hamel, executive vice president, said campus police policies are chosen by using, “the best practices that are identified by the profession,” and that he will follow up on what the official guidelines are.

A student asked how FSU is attempting to diversify the faculty. Linda Vaden-Goad, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said five new faculty members are hired every year and the administration has “made great progress in faculty.” Half of new hires were from under-represented groups last year.

Melinda Stoops, dean of students, said that based on the diversity data of the campus, specific goals have been set for each office to hire people from different backgrounds.

Colucci also referenced a plan which was written in 2012 to create a more diverse faculty but she also said that accomplishing these goals can be difficult.

“We can’t say ‘In the chemistry department, can we have more men’ because that’s illegal,” said Colucci, “but what we can do as a university is say we have a goal that we’d like to reach, but when you’re hiring, you can’t take those factors into account, so it’s tricky.”

Another question that was raised repeatedly concerned food service on campus. Sarah Cowdell, junior, expressed the concerns of some students who would like more vegan options to be available at the Snack Bar in the McCarthy Center.

Ralph Eddy, director of dining services, said the there are fewer options in the Snack Bar in an effort to reduce waste and because of low demand. Eddy said there is a large number of vegan options in other locations on campus, but he is open to the opinions of students.

Karl Bryan, freshman, asked about the hours of the cafeteria and whether they could be expanded. Eddy said the cafeteria is open until 7:30 p.m. during the week and dining dollars are also an available option for off hours. Eddy added that there are exceptions for students who cannot eat during the regular hours and advised them to contact dining services if that is the case for meal exceptions.

The availability of food on weekends was a concern raised by for another student, who complained about the hours the cafeteria is open. Eddy said dining services is looking into offering coffee early in the Dining Commons on Saturdays and Sundays and is open to changing hours based on demand.

Safety for LGBT students on campus was a concern raised by Calvin Ridley, junior, who asked administrators about whether gender-neutral bathrooms are a possibility. President F. Javier Cevallos said he hopes to create a safer, more welcoming environment for all students. “I believe that we have to provide some gender-neutral bathrooms,” Cevallos said. “I think that one of the best things you could do is put pressure on the state to change the regulations.”

Warren Fairbanks, associate vice president of facilities and capital planning, agreed that gender-neutral or unisex bathrooms should be available, but meeting plumbing regulations is harder than it seems. Fairbanks said that Massachusetts, though it leads the rest of the country in fire and building codes, is less progressive when it comes to plumbing codes.

“The plumbing code is written and enforced by basically grumpy old plumbers who are very resistant to change,” said Fairbanks who, along with Cevallos, encouraged students to go to the plumbing board meetings about changing the fixture law which, regulates the number of bathrooms available per building.