News in Brief for the week of Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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Riverside area school board member avoids censure

A Riverside area school board member accused of racist social media posts earlier this year has escaped censure by the Alvord Unified School District (AUSD) board. Trustee Joseph Barragan is accused by the school board of violating decorum and professionalism by posting criticisms of district policy and employee salaries in addition to making controversial allegations against district spending practices. The censure vote failed with the board claiming it now sought to reconcile their differences and move forward in the best interest of students.

Barragan allegedly considered legal action against the board in the event that the censure vote passed. Barragan claimed that the board censuring him for posts on his private social media account would have violated his First Amendment rights to free speech, though the board has disputed this claim.

The AUSD board originally intended to vote on a censure resolution on the morning of Tuesday, May 30; the vote, however, was postponed to a meeting on Thursday, June 8. The reason for the rescheduling was given as the absence of board member Carolyn Wilson, who said she wished to devote time and attention to such an important decision, according to the Press Enterprise.

The board’s decision was met with shock and anger by some members of the community, including AUSD teachers union President Leigh Hawkinson, who expressed frustration at the board’s unwillingness to act against Barragan. Hawkinson had previously been accused by Barragan of “spearheading a witch hunt” against him.

Neither Barragan nor Hawkinson replied to repeated requests for comment.

 

A small, 120-decibel alarm may become the next pepper spray

 

A small alarm manufactured by BASU.COM, eAlarm, may be poised to take over pepper spray as the new self-defense mechanism used by students.

eAlarm is a small 2.7 inch by 1.2 inch device that, upon pulling a pin at the top, will emit a shrill 120-decibel siren. According to the device description on Amazon.com, the device will sound for 30 minutes unless the pin is returned to the top of the device.

Ishita Shah, a representative for BASU.COM, emphasized BASU.COM’s perspective that the alarm may replace pepper spray since, in their view, those who use it may not be equipped to safely handle pepper spray. According to BASU Public Relations Director Jill Turner, “Most people … are not professionally trained (to use pepper spray), and end up hurting themselves or arming their attacker.” She went on to say that “The alarm makes it possible to prevent a violent crime without the use of force.”

 

The device has also made an appearance at UCR. ASUCR voted in May to purchase 900 blue eAlarms to distribute at various campus security events. This comes shortly before a series of sexual assault incidents in spring quarter 2017 prompting Shah to cite a statistic from the International Institute of Criminology which “found that 68% of criminals will flee a crime scene completely empty handed as soon as an alarm is heard.” Shah also acknowledged the alarm will not only make an attacker flee, but notify other people that someone may need help.


By: Evan Ismail, SSW and Andreas Rauch, SSW

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