A state legislator requested a comprehensive audit California State University system sexual harassment policies and subsequent settlements paid to alleged harassers following a recent scandal involving former Foreign Minister Joseph Castro.
the assemblyman Rudy Salasa Bakersfield Democrat who chairs the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, said this week that 43 lawmakers have signed on to support his request.
“The recent allegations of sexual harassment involving multiple CSU campuses, as well as the Chancellor’s Office, are unacceptable and warrant the scrutiny and impartiality that only the State Auditor can provide,” Salas said in a statement this week. “It is unacceptable that the largest four-year public university system in this nation has such widespread sexual harassment charges and payments.”
“Only an independent audit can help clear the way for consistent policies that will help protect our students and faculty at our largest (school) institutions.”
The audit request follows media reports about widespread complaints of sexual harassment within the CSU system, particularly those involving prominent staff and administrators.
The CSU Board of Trustees supports Chambers’ request, he said Thursday. Michael Uhlenkampspokesman for the Office of the Chancellor.
“We appreciate our elected leaders who share the same goals of supporting CSU students and employees,” said Uhlenkamp. “If the legislature ultimately determines that an audit of the university’s Title IX policies is necessary, the Chancellor’s Office and any identified campuses will readily participate.”
The USC system has retained the law firm Cozen O’Connor to conduct an independent evaluation of its Title IX practices at all campuses and the Office of the Chancellor. Title IX protects individuals from discrimination based on gender in educational programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
The CSU assessment follows the Castro’s resignation in February amid a storm of criticism for his handling of sexual harassment allegations against former Cal State Fresno administrator Frank Lamas.
Rather than fully investigate multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and other questionable behavior involving Lamas, Castro, while president of Fresno State, allowed him to quietly retire. Under a settlement agreement Lamas signed on August 31, 2020, he was paid $260,000 and he was presented with a glowing letter of recommendation from Castro.
Shortly after the agreement was signed, the Board of Trustees appointed Castro to the post of chancellor of the entire CSU system.
Although he no longer serves as chancellor, Castro receives a salary of $401,000 and participates in a one-year transition program that allows become a teacher at Cal Poly San Luis Obispowhere he is the owner.
Shortly after Castro chose to participate in the program, CSU members determined they would stop granting similar transition opportunities to newly hired executives until they reviewed recommendations from a task force, Uhlenkamp said. The trustees may review those recommendations later this month.
Emily Berquist Soule and Sabrina Alimahomed-WilsonCal State Long Beach professors who led a petition campaign for an independent investigation, said Thursday that they have little trust in the trustees.
“It is now more apparent that the CSU cannot be trusted to conduct an internal investigation of these matters without external oversight,” the pair said in a joint statement. “How many more incidents like these, or worse, must come to light before the CSU does the right thing by protecting victims from predators rather than the predators themselves?
In addition to the Fresno state scandal, Salas noted that the CSU system paid out $600,000 in April to resolve a complaint with a Sonoma State Chancellor who reported allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation involving the campus president and her husband.
Also in 2021, San José State University reached a $3.3 million settlement with 15 former student athletes who were reportedly sexually harassed by a long-time sports coach. A federal civil rights investigation found that the state of San Jose failed to take appropriate action in response to athlete reports and retaliated against two employees who repeatedly raised concerns with the university.
Salas will formally present his CSU audit request to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on June 27.
- Writer Joe Nelson contributed to this article.
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State Legislator Requests Audit of Sexual Harassment Policies from Cal State University