Chancellor Castro cracks under growing pressure of Title IX case handling

Joseph I. Castro has resigned from the California State University (CSU) Chancellor position after mounting pressure from how he handled a 2019 Title IX complaint against CSU Fresno’s vice president of student affairs, Frank Lamas.  

Castro was appointed CSU Chancellor just over one year ago, in October 2020. He held the chancellor position for just over one year, with his resignation becoming official on Feb. 17.  

The Board of Trustees has yet to appoint a new chancellor to fill Castro’s position and they are currently finalizing a succession plan to replace him. For the time being, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Steve Relyea will serve as acting chancellor. 

After the Title IX case resurfaced, Castro explained in an open letter to the CSU community that in order to expedite Lamas’s removal from Fresno’s campus and ensure he would not be allowed to work at any other CSU campus, he agreed to a settlement in which he had to write Lamas a letter of reference he could use for other jobs.

However, Castro did not disclose in his email that this settlement also included a $260,000 payout and retirement package for Lamas. His letter of recommendation also did not disclose the investigation against Lamas or why he was removed from campus.

Expecting everyone to immediately forgive Castro and have the situation blow over quickly seems a bit ridiculous – an apology won’t undo the damage and additional pain Castro’s actions caused for victims. 

 While Castro’s apology was very much necessary and his email implied he had intention to improve the CSU’s efforts for the prevention and redress of sexual miscounduct, he will not be sticking around to see it through. 

Instead, Castro appears to have cracked under the pressure put on by CSU students, faculty and staff. After still receiving backlash from how the 2019 Title IX complaint was handled, even after issuing a public apology, Castro chose to resign. 

He explained he made this decision to keep the CSU community focused on students’s education. “The decision to resign is the most difficult of my professional life,” Castro said.

Fourth-year, Anna Stubler said “I don’t know a lot about the situation, but I know when I saw he wrote a recommendation letter for Lamas I thought that was pretty bad. I’m sure he was under a lot of pressure to resign and it would be great if we can find a new Chancellor that has a good commitment to supporting Title IX. I’m not sure he should have been appointed after a settlement like that in the first place.”

The Board of Trustees revealed they were unaware of the concerns regarding Castro’s response to the allegations against Lamas until early February 2022. 

It would have shown more dedication to keeping the CSU safe and truly recognizing his wrongdoings if Castro had stuck through to ensure better Title IX prevention was implemented into the system.
However, the Board of Trustees has announced they intend to launch a systemwide Title IX assessment, which will begin in March on Fresno State’s campus. They stated the goal of the assessment is to provide “insights, recommendations and resources to help advance CSU’s Title IX and civil rights training, awareness, prevention, intervention, compliance, accountability, and support systems.”

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