SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE)- On Monday state officials gave the green light to the State Auditor to investigate the California State University System and its handling of sexual harassment and misconduct complaints.
It comes after reports that alleged that the CSU system and top CSU officials mishandled sexual harassment complaints against employees on at least three campuses.
Joint Legislative Audit Committee Chair Rudy Salas Jr and over 40 state legislators requested the audit that will dig into the Title IX policies and procedures systemwide. However, the audit will focus on the practices at the Chancellor’s Office, Fresno State, San Jose State, and Sonoma State. All three of those CSU universities have had complaints against them.
In the audit request, Salas Jr. references an LA Times report that claimed that CSU paid a $600,000 settlement over sexual harassment allegations involving the campus president.
Salas Jr. then references a Los Angeles Times report about a $3.3 million settlement regarding a sports trainer and athletes.
The third incident that Salas Jr. referenced was a series of USA Today articles that detailed at least a dozen sexual harassment complaints over six years made against Fresno State VP of Student Affairs Frank Lamas.
Documents showed that the CSU System and Fresno State gave Lamas a $260,000 settlement and a letter of reference from Former Fresno State President Joseph Castro. The settlement was signed as long as Lamas retired and never worked for a CSU campus again.
Castro was promoted to CSU Chancellor.
“Somehow this system brought about embarrassment to the University,” said State Assemblyman Jim Patterson. “It cost substantial reputations.”
The CSU system has over 20 campuses and houses nearly a half a million students.
After backlash from the reports, Castro signed a settlement agreement and resigned as CSU Chancellor. CSU will pay $400,000 as part of the Executive Transition Program and Castro will then be able to teach as a tenured Professor at CSU-SLO after a year because of “retreat rights”.
“This is a real stain on our CSU System,” said Patterson.
The CSU system has approved a statewide assessment of all Title IX policies and procedures but the CSU Employees Union and over 40 state legislators called for an independent state audit where the results are public.
“You don’t want to trust the institutions to investigate themselves,” said Patterson.
The audit will focus on the Chancellor’s Office, Fresno State, Sonoma State, and San Jose State.
The state audit will look into sexual harassment cases since 2018, review the system-wide Title IX Office, review the structure of the investigatory process, determine whether the police and procedures are accurate, and review the total number of complaints and timelessness of disciplinary action.
“We strongly support the Joint Legislative Audit Committee’s decision to direct the California State Auditor to review California State University’s handling of sexual harassment and violence allegations.
The fact that 43 bipartisan legislators co-signed and supported Assemblymember Rudy Salas’ (D-Bakersfield) audit request speaks for itself: The pattern of sexual harassment allegations involving several CSU campuses, as well as the Chancellor’s Office, and the apparent subsequent attempts at cover-up, are unacceptable and warrant an independent state investigation. Student and employee safety at any university must be priority No. 1. We look forward to the audit shining a light on management transparency and accountability. The CSU must ensure students and employees can study and work in an environment free of harassment, discrimination, and intimidation.” – Statement from CSU Employee Union President Catherine Hutchinson
The audit letter can be found below.