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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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    CSU Chancellor Under Fire Over Handling of Sexual Misconduct Complaints at Fresno State

    Joseph+I.+Castro+was+appointed+as+the+eighth+chancellor+of+the+California+State+University+in+2020%2C+but+there+are+calls+for+his+resignation+for+what+many+are+calling+a+mishandling+of+sexual+misconduct+allegations+when+he+was+president+at+Fresno+State.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+the+California+State+University%29%26%23160%3B

    Joseph I. Castro was appointed as the eighth chancellor of the California State University in 2020, but there are calls for his resignation for what many are calling a mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations when he was president at Fresno State. (Photo courtesy of the California State University) 

    California State University chancellor Joseph I. Castro is facing criticism over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations during his tenure as president of Fresno State.
    Castro served as the president of Fresno State from 2013 to 2020, and according to a new USA Today investigative report, was aware of numerous complaints and sexual assault allegations towards former Fresno State vice president of student affairs Frank Lamas.
    Complaints about Lamas’ conduct began during his very first week as VP of student affairs and continued for six more years. As university president, Castro allegedly oversaw the installment of a window in Lamas’ office in 2016 after it was reported that the top administrator would consistently harass women by staring at their breasts, inappropriately touching them, making sexist remarks, and retaliating against employees who spoke up.
    According to school records, Lamas wasn’t disciplined until 2019 when an official Title IX complaint was filed against Lamas. These allegations claim that Lamas offered promotions and recommendations in exchange for sexual favors. 
    After an investigation by the school, rather than condemning Lamas’ actions, it was revealed that Castro paid Lamas $260,000 with full retirement benefits as a form of settlement in Aug. of 2020 to prevent the former VP of student affairs from working in the CSU system ever again. Additionally, Castro promised Lamas letters of recommendation if he were to apply to universities outside of the CSU system.
    On Sep. 23, just three weeks after the settlement between Castro and Lamas, the Fresno State president was named as the eighth chancellor in the history of the California State University by the CSU Board of Trustees.
    Castro responded to the findings of the new USA Today report in an email to the campus community.
    “I want to acknowledge the pain suffered by the members of the Fresno State community. To those who were hurt by Dr. Lamas’ behavior and actions, I am deeply and profoundly sorry,” Castro said.
    “In addition, I also recognize that aspects of Dr. Lamas’ separation from the university may have exacerbated this pain and caused understandable frustration among the campus community. I am sorry for this,” he continued.
    California senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) is one of the many members of the public who are calling for Castro to be thoroughly investigated.
    “I call for an immediate and thorough investigation by the CSU Board of Trustees—and any other authority that may have jurisdiction—to determine the accuracy of the information that appears in the USA Today story. If those allegations are proven to be accurate, I would then ask Chancellor Castro to immediately resign from his position since it would call into clear question his ability to lead the California State University system and its thousands of employees,” Leyva said.
    In an official statement to the public, Castro said that he welcomes an independent investigation.
    There are currently 19 trustees of the California State University; 15 of the current trustees were on the board who elected Castro as chancellor in 2020. In response to the USA Today story, CSU Board of Trustees Chair Lillian Kimbell released a statement on behalf of the board defending Castro.
    “I appreciate the forthright nature with which Chancellor Castro has addressed the allegations and concerns raised in the recent USA Today story. The Chancellor’s willingness to be apologetic​ and reflect candidly on his own actions is the type of leadership we should seek,” Kimbell said. 
    “Dr. Castro’s track record and deep support of Title IX are clear. As president at Fresno State, he acted in accordance with CSU policy in this case and used the management tools available to him to address the situation,” she continued. ​“Dr. Castro’s early priorities in his chancellorship focused on addressing some of these challenges.”
    While members of the Stanislaus State campus community have yet to respond for comment, the Fresno State community has been extremely vocal.
    On Feb. 5, an organized protest took place at the Fresno State campus calling for Castro’s immediate resignation. There were also several demonstrators that claimed that the university ignored their own reports of sexual assault while Castro was in office.
    Stanislaus State officials have yet to comment on the matter surrounding Castro.
    Resources available for victims of sexual violence at Stan State include University Police, the Stan State Student Health CenterPsychological Counseling Services, the Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus, the Stanislaus Family Resource Center, and the campus sexual assault victim advocate. A full list of resources can be found here.

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    CSU Chancellor Under Fire Over Handling of Sexual Misconduct Complaints at Fresno State