FAU students and parents react to new campus sex offender search tool

Dylan Bouscher

Maresa Mason would want to know if her daughter, senior theater student Dani Mason, were going to school with a bunch of registered sex offenders.

“There are sex offenders everywhere,” Mason said on a parent-family weekend visit. “[The kids] should be able to know. Then again, is it right for the other person? I don’t know.”

With a new search category added to the state’s Sex Offender Registry last week by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Mason or anyone with an internet connection can find offenders currently enrolled, employed or volunteering at Florida’s colleges and universities. The state has more than 60,000 registered sex offenders, with 600 of them actively registered at the state’s colleges and universities, WPTV reported.

FAU is the school of choice for just two. According to the registry, UCF and USF have more sex offenders than any other public university in the state, with nine and eight offenders respectively. FIU, FSU, and FAMU all have one offender, while FAU and Nova Southeastern University have two each, FGCU has three, and UM, New College and UNF have none. In the infographic below, the UP compiled numbers from the registry that include the amount of sex offenders attending each school, the number of campuses per university, and total student enrollment.

Mason thinks the numbers have little bearing on how safe a campus is.

“Those are the only two that have been classified and reported,” Mason said, adding, “it all depends on what they were a sex offender for.”

Students like freshman psychology major Kristen Thoman agree with Mason about how severe the sex offenders’ crimes were.

“I don’t really care to know what they look like, I feel like if I know what they look like I would maybe judge them, so I would rather not know,” Thoman said about being able to find the sex offenders on campus. “The past is the past … two out of however many thousand, I really don’t think that’s a problem. That’s not bad to me at all.”

Knowing how many sex offenders were enrolled at FAU and what crimes they committed — both offenders were charged with “lewd” sexual acts with 12 to 16-year-old minors over ten years ago, while the they were between 18 and 25 years old — did not affect Thoman’s opinion of campus safety either.

“If we had like, 34 sex offenders walking around campus and some were rapists and some were repeated child molesters, yeah I would be a little freaked out about it,” Thoman said. “Two mild cases, no that doesn’t change my opinion at all. That’s not bad.”

 

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The UP reached out to FAU Police Chief Charles Lowe and instead received the following statement from Director of Media Relations Lisa Metcalf:

Universities have appropriate procedures in place to ensure that admitted students have a high likelihood of academic and future success.

All students applying to FAU for undergraduate study are asked questions on their application that must be answered in regards to any prior behavioral, disciplinary, academic or unlawful misconduct.

The Admissions Review Board conducts a comprehensive evaluation of each situation involving such past conduct and examines all pertinent supporting material, such as court documents, police records, student records, a required student statement and previous academic credentials.

After the board’s review, the student is notified of the decision as to whether or not their file may continue in the application process. Should a student be admitted, specific conditions may be placed on

the individual as part of a mutual agreement with the University.

 

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