Alonso Montano/Staff Writer
The University is home to over 50,000 students who come from various cultures and diverse backgrounds. Some of the students might have had problematic pasts which may include a history of sexual misconduct and offenses.
There is no current law that prohibits sex offenders from attending institutions of higher education in Florida; but in accordance to state statutes, as part of their probation process, registered sex offenders must state that they are going to college and specify the name of the institution.
According to The Florida Department of Law Enforcement: “The designation of a person as a sexual predator or sexual offender is neither a sentence nor a punishment but simply a status resulting from the conviction of certain crimes.”
Florida records show over 100 registered sex offenders attending South Florida universities and colleges; and when it comes to sexual offenders at FIU, the University Police Department and the Office of Admissions follow a standard protocol to adhere to the law while providing the “best possible environment” for the rest of the students.
“We have an admissions review committee. When we have students who have some kind of history that is questionable, the committee meets to decide whether or not they should be admitted,” said Chief of Police Alexander Casas.
Casas also emphasized that sexual offenders can be employed as faculty and/or staff. However, there are some restrictions that prevent them from performing certain jobs.
“For example, they would not be able to work at the Children’s Learning Center with children,” Casas said. “Or when the athletics department has some kind of summer camps like basketball camps or football clinics.”
A list of names of current sex offenders attending the university is available to the public on the police department website, police.fiu.edu.
[pullquote]“We are very transparent about it,” Casas said.[/pullquote]
However, some students like Silvia Berganza not only did not know about the list on the FIUPD website, but were also unaware that sex offenders were allowed on campus.
“It’s interesting,” said Berganza, a graduate student. “I didn’t know they [sex offenders] were allowed in school.”
When asked if sex offenders should be allowed in school, Berganza made her opinion quite clear.
“I feel they could be a danger to me,” Berganza said. “I actually carry pepper spray with me in my purse.”
And even though UPD makes the information available to the public, students like Berganza believe more should be done to let students know about the subject.
“They should at least send us e-mails like when they do with events and stuff like that,” Berganza said. “I would’ve finished school without ever knowing about this.”
The list found on police.fiu.edu is actively being updated as sex offenders enroll or leave the school.
“We very much believe in making that information available to anybody that is interested because everybody has the right to know,” Casas said.