Fresno students call for CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro’s resignation

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Fresno State students and community members took to campus Saturday to support survivors of sexual abuse and harassment following a six-month investigation into former Fresno State president Joseph Castro published by USA Today Thursday.

The investigation showcased the intentional oversight of sexual harassment instances while Castro was working at the campus. 

Students and administrators are now asking for an investigation, with many demanding Castro step away from his current role as California State University chancellor. 

“It is very strenuous as students ― you have to worry about money and family, and now potentially be sexually assaulted,” said Uday Patel, a Fresno City College student attending the protest. “But it happens so often, we kind of get numb to it.”

Fresno City College students Liyah Garcia, right, and Uday Patel were among about 40 protestors gathered Saturday, February 5, 2022 at Shaw and Cedar avenues near Fresno State to protest the university's handling of sexual assault victims. Many of them thought Joseph Castro should be held accountable.

Around 40 protesters showed up to Fresno State Saturday on the corner of Shaw and Cedar avenues. Some said they were there to support friends who had been sexually assaulted, while many said they are survivors themselves.

“I have a lot of friends who go to Fresno State,” Clovis Community College student Andres Tablas-Ayala said. “I found out here, today, they are victims of sexual assault. It really got me thinking about how you may not know what is going on in someone’s life.”

Former Fresno State student Xitllali Loya organized a protest at Shaw and Cedar avenues Saturday, February 5, 2022. About two dozen gathered to protest the university's handling of sexual assault victims. Many of them thought Joseph Castro should be held accountable.

While Frank Lamas was employed by the college as its Vice President for Student Affairs, Castro, the school’s human resources department, and its Title IX office received more than 10 complaints over six years about Lamas’ inappropriate behavior.

“[Title IX is] a way for them to downplay sexual assault and harassment,” said Dr. Kristina Schierenbeck, biological sciences professor at Chico State. “Many incidents, if reported to the police, would actually result in prosecution.”

Lamas was never disciplined, despite two internal investigations finding the senior administrator responsible for sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

About 40 Protestors gathered at Shaw and Cedar avenues near Fresno State on Saturday, February 5, 2022 to protest the university's handling of sexual assault victims. Many of them thought Joseph Castro should be held accountable.

Dr. Schierenbeck called Title IX “a joke” due to the lack of response from CSU systems.

In Lamas’ case, he signed a settlement agreement for $260,000, allowing him to quietly retire on Dec. 31, 2020, and was offered a letter of recommendation.

Castro overlooked Lamas’ actions over the course of six years. He now oversees all 23 California State University systems, including more than half a million students and employees.

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