California Faculty Association member leaders continue to call on state lawmakers to open a public, independent investigation into the now-former chancellor’s handling of sexual harassment cases at Fresno State, along with the larger issue of how Title IX complaints are conducted on our campuses.

Despite Joseph Castro resigning as chancellor of the CSU system last Thursday during a closed CSU Board of Trustees meeting, members of that board don’t want to follow the facts and investigate their own systemic problems with sexual and gender violence.

This is why state lawmakers must investigate.

The resignation of an individual, even a top executive, does not address systemic problems of sexual harassment and gender violence at our universities and the culture of coverup and secrecy that seems to accompany administrative responses. 

This is why, even before Castro’s resignation, six CSU labor unions – CFA, CSUEU, Teamsters Local 2010, Local UAW 4123, Academic Professionals of California (APC), and Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) wrote a joint letter to Trustees calling for a state legislative investigation.

Our joint advocacy continues and is joined by at least one state lawmaker.

After Castro’s resignation, State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), the chair of the Senate Education Committee, released a statement saying, in part, that if “the CSU Board of Trustees refuses to initiate an investigation in the near future, I will convene a Senate Education Committee hearing to examine the extent of inappropriate behavior that endangered the safety and well-being of students and other members of the Fresno State community.”

Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside), who chairs the Assembly Higher Education Committee said that he will introduce legislation to strengthen Title IX “and ensure that previous responses and handlings of Title IX are evaluated when selecting leaders of our public university segments.”

Both are important approaches by state lawmakers. Additionally, we are renewing our call for 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 have failed our community. This secretive process has resulted in a lack of trust in the judgement of leadership.

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 just the most 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.

Details on potential severance package, executive perks

While 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 through a closed process, so too do questions about the former chancellor’s potential severance package.

Full details have not been yet made public, but according to early reporting from CalMatters, CSU “policy indicates that Castro is entitled to about $400,000 in compensation next year.”

The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported there is a clause in Castro’s contract that allows him to become a fully tenured professor at Cal Poly, specifically at Orfalea College of Business, “where he would be a professor of leadership and public policy.”

It is unknown at this time if he will exercise his executive perks, often conflated with retreat rights.   

“It is absurd that an executive with minimal teaching experience, who just resigned in disgrace as chancellor for a cover-up of sexual harassment investigations while he was president of Fresno State, has the ability to ‘retreat’ to a university in which he has no prior relationship with the faculty colleagues of the designated department and continue to collect a paycheck,” said Diane Blair, CFA Secretary and Fresno State communication professor.

The CSU should not extend this executive ‘retreat’ rights or golden parachute to Castro.

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