California Faculty Association member leaders were shocked to read about allegations from USA Today’s six-month investigative report that Chancellor Castro mishandled sexual harassment complaints while he was president at Fresno State.
It is disturbing to read a report that the chancellor publicly praised Frank Lamas after Fresno State – in 2020 – found Lamas “responsible for sexually harassing” women, engaging in an “abusive workplace,” and creating a “culture of fear,” according to USA Today’s investigation.
The handling of the incident reflects a systemic problem in society at large as well as in the academy, where people with real institutional power protect one another by covering up bad behavior and allowing themselves and their colleagues to save face and avoid accountability, rather than doing what is best for the health and safety of the campus community.
In a statement released to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, we called on the California State University Board of Trustees to immediately launch a full investigation into the chancellor’s knowledge and handling of allegations of sexual harassment. We have since learned that the former CSU Chancellor, Timothy White, knew about these allegations and advised the now-chancellor during his interview process. We do not yet know who amongst the Board of Trustees knew about these allegations prior to them being made public by USA Today.
We believe an independent investigation by the legislature is the appropriate mechanism for ensuring fairness and due process in this matter.
State lawmakers must launch an immediate investigation into these allegations so students, staff, and faculty can be confident in the integrity of our leadership and to ensure that the person leading the largest four-year public university system in the United States is actively working to protect the health and well-being of every member of the CSU community.
Additionally, please consider signing this open letter from CFA Fresno chapter that supports an investigation and systemic changes to address this institutional abuse, which currently fails to protect staff, students, and faculty.