Title IX Task Force
9.29.22 - A message from the President
Dear Campus Community,
The California State University Board of Trustees will soon release the findings of its investigation into Fresno State and the CSU’s handling of the complaints against Dr. Frank Lamas, a former vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. The report will be made publicly available on the CSU website shortly.
Our Fresno State community has experienced a lot of pain, and we have deeply felt the impact of these events. I want to acknowledge and thank our Bulldog family members who shared their experiences and thoughts honestly throughout this investigation. I know this process was not easy, and I recognize that we still have much healing to do. We affirm unequivocally that sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination are always wrong, in every circumstance.
The findings of this review and efforts by our campus community will help us to implement efficacious policies that are evidence-informed. I am resolved to implement mechanisms that foster a sense of safety, accountability and transparency moving forward. As many of you know, I formed the Title IX Task Force in early spring with a vision toward creating a safer and more inclusive and equitable campus. I am thankful for the leadership of Dr. Bernadette Muscat, dean of Undergraduate Studies and a specialist in victimology. Likewise, I am very proud of the composition of this task force: It contains expert faculty, knowledgeable staff, invested students and professional community representation. The task force works in collaboration with the qualified consultants from the firm Cozen O’Connor.
Though their work continues, we have already taken a few steps in responding to the needs that were initially identified by our community. To this end, I am pleased to report that we have hired a second survivor advocate for our campus, who will start work in January. Additionally, we have hired a deputy Title IX coordinator on an interim basis, and a search for a full-time discrimination, harassment and retaliation coordinator within human resources is in its final stages.
The task force is diligently working toward making solid recommendations that will allow me to implement a robust and holistic plan for further action that focuses on protection, prevention, intervention and healing related to Title IX and Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation.
I have also charged the task force with recommending a process that will appropriately address macro- and microaggressions, as these can potentially develop into Title IX and Discrimination, Harrassment, and Retaliation (DHR) cases if not addressed. It is important that we employ preemptive measures, rather than rely on reactive approaches to problem solving. The Task Force recommendations will focus on four key areas:
- Process: This includes addressing issues in a timely manner, providing resources and information to those who make reports of misconduct and establishing clear disciplinary or other consequences for unacceptable behavior, as well as identifying additional human and physical support resources needed for intervention, protection and prevention.
- Prevention/Education/Training: With a focus on cultural competence and building a culture of respect, we will design training tracks for different audiences and empower middle management (deans, associate deans and AVPs) to address conflict.
- Policy: Reinforcement of professional conduct, focusing on conflict-resolution skills. Clear messaging about disciplinary actions and consequences concerning unprofessional behavior. A comprehensive evaluation will be conducted for all management personnel by their respective direct reports.
- Communication/Web Presence: Launch an ongoing information campaign that will reinforce a culture of awareness and compliance and have clear web presence with straightforward information about the issues at hand that is accessible on multiple platforms.
We have begun doing important work. The foundational work we have already undertaken, in combination with a thorough study of the forthcoming independent report, will allow Fresno State to improve the overall credibility of the systemwide and institutional processes and procedures we use to safeguard against sexual and other harassment and misconduct.
I remain fully committed to promoting an inclusive, supportive culture that is worthy of our vibrant Fresno State community.
Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Ph.D.