Joseph Castro resigned last night after mishandling sexual harassment allegations when he served as Fresno State’s president. Questions remain regarding what happened at Fresno State, what happened during the former chancellor’s hiring process, and why the CSU continues to hire administrators with little regard for student safety and human dignity.
Our sympathies are not with Castro, but with the survivors of sexual violence and gender violence who are triggered when they see abusers’ names in media alongside the powerful who covered for them.
This is larger than one person – it is a system of policies and practices that allows abuse and then silences, ignores, and covers up to protect the image of the institution. It is a system that enables perpetrators to maintain their power and act callously toward survivors of gender violence and sexual violence.
The resignation of the chancellor is not enough. All who allowed this systemic abuse to continue need to be held accountable and real changes need to be made. The Board of Trustees’ plan to hire an outside firm to investigate is insufficient; their standard “crisis management” approach will not lead to true accountability. Only a public, open, and independent investigation by the state legislature can produce impartial results, which can lead to the systemic changes we need to see. It is also the only way to restore the public trust in the leadership of the CSU.
We also renew our call for increased transparency when it comes to the hiring of top executives for the CSU.
Closed-door hiring practices that deny public vetting of candidates for executive leadership positions in the CSU has failed our community. This secretive process has resulted in a lack of trust in the judgement of leadership.
We call on our state legislators to launch an immediate investigation into the problematic handling of sexual and gender violence on our campuses, so students, staff, and faculty can be confident in the integrity of the CSU and to ensure that people leading the largest four-year public university system in the United States are actively working to protect the health and well-being of every member of the CSU community.
This moment offers an opportunity for addressing the systemic nature of sexual and gender violence. The CSU’s approach to handling Title IX related incidents must be reformed to better protect survivors, rather than maintaining a bureaucracy built primarily to help the CSU avoid liability. Fresno State and San José State are recent examples of this broken system. This should be about justice, not about protecting abusers and those in power.
Only then will accountability begin to occur, and systemic change happen.
ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA FACULTY ASSOCIATION: CFA is an anti-racist and social justice union that represents more than 29,000 tenure-line instructional faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches on the 23 campuses of the California State University system, from Cal Poly Humboldt in the north, to San Diego State in the south. We advocate for students, higher education, and faculty rights. Learn more about CFA at calfac.org and visit our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.