Students and faculty at the nation’s largest university system expressed frustration over multiple incidents involving sexual assault, sexual harassment, workplace retaliation and racism. The comments were made during the Cal State Board of Trustees’ regular May meeting.
Those testifying said the board has enabled university leaders to dismiss and ignore complaints while avoiding accountability. No disciplinary action has been taken at any of the 23 campuses in the Cal State University (CSU) system despite several complaints of sexual harassment and other misconduct.
Complaints target several CSU campuses
To date, the outrage over CSU’s inability to address these accusations has resulted in the resignations of two university leaders. The first was former CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro, who stepped down in February. Castro was accused of ignoring sexual harassment complaints while president at Fresno State from 2013 to 2020.
The other resignation occurred on June 6 when Sonoma State President Judy Sakaki announced she would resign on July 31 due to a sexual harassment complaint against her husband, Patrick McCallum. An LA Times investigation found that CSU paid $600,000 to settle the claim with a former provost at the school, who said Sakaki retaliated against her after reporting the incident.
Since Castro’s resignation, several other complaints target administrators at San Jose State, Chico State, CSU Fullerton, CSU Monterey Bay, CSU Bakersfield and Cal Poly Humboldt. A recent complaint was made at CSU San Bernadino by a seven-year employee who reported being sexually assaulted by a co-worker. The woman said she was denied reasonable accommodations after experiencing anxiety and trauma, while her attacker was given paid leave.
How should I handle sexual harassment?
It is against the law for co-workers, supervisors, administrators, or others to make unwelcome sexual advances. But sexual harassment does not have to be based on sexual desire. It can include unwanted physical contact, displaying sexually explicit pictures or objects or making comments about a person’s appearance related to their gender.
Sometimes, telling the person to stop their offensive behavior is enough to resolve the issue. However, if they persist, you can put the complaint in writing, informing the person you will take formal action unless they stop. The next step may be filing a complaint with a supervisor or human resources.
It is advisable to contact an attorney if your complaint is not handled according to your expectations. Be sure to take detailed notes of each offensive incident, including the day, time, and the facts. Save copies of all emails, letters, and other correspondence. You should also note how the offender responded to your verbal or written complaints and what steps your employer, university, or other organization took to address your concerns.