Fresno State Partners with ASI to Host Open Student Forum

Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval hosted an open forum for students in conjunction with Associated Students Inc. (ASI) on March 24 in room 118 of the North Gym Building.

It was moderated by Vice President of University Communications Lauren Nickerson, who answered questions in person, and Betsy Hays, Chair of the Department of Media, Communications and Journalism. Additionally, ASI President D’Aungillique Jackson helped answer questions.

Fresno State students asked about former university president Joseph Castro who mishandled Title IX cases and sexual harassment complaints against former faculty member Frank Lamas .

Jiménez-Sandoval said he met with the CSU board about an independent investigation into Castro’s case that was announced by CSU officials in March. An investigator and another national firm have been identified, he added.

“These revelations are only recent to the public. So why didn’t Fresno State wait until it was made public to handle it? asked one student.

Jiménez-Sandoval responded that Human Resources (HR) privacy policies do not allow Fresno State to release information to the public, even if administrators know something has happened.

“It’s just to let you know that the issues that are happening in HR are not known to other members of the firm. They are known to a few select people,” Jiménez-Sandoval said.

The president also clarified that the settlement and investigation is being handled by the CSU General Counsel’s Office, CSU Fresno State Campus Attorney, and Castro.

This led to questions about whether CSU members involved in the Lamas settlement would be removed from their positions.

“That means there are multiple people within CSU who make the decisions that happen throughout the process and along the way, and it’s not my decision whether or not they will be removed” , Jiménez-Sandoval said in his response. .

He also said the victims did not receive any part of the financial settlements, and he said he was unable to explain why as he was not involved in those processes. This led to students asking whether he is a “trustworthy leader” or not.

After 22 years of working for Fresno State, Jiménez-Sandoval said it was still important to tell his story and let students know he was there to help.

“Trust is a long-term process. I’m a new leader for you because I’m a new president, just over a year old,” he said. “I’ve found myself in situations that weren’t created by my own actions. I hope people know that…I don’t want to sweep things under the rug.

Jackson also followed the president’s remarks in his defense, saying he spoke to him and ASI after the Castro news broke. She also said conversations have taken place with administrators, student affairs, faculty and staff.

Jackson went on to explain how sexual harassment is a systemic issue.

“I can guarantee you that he is the man who is going to fight for us and he is going to listen to what we have to say and implement these changes,” she said of Jiménez-Sandoval.

Hays read another comment asking if other administrators under Jiménez-Sandoval’s cabinet were trustworthy, as some of them had also worked under Castro’s administration.

After reading the reports and documents, Jiménez-Sandoval said the administration “followed the protocols.” In previous open forums, he has also made it clear that he trusts the admins currently working with him.

“Unfortunately there are sometimes circumstances that may be related to personnel that we are not always able to share or cannot share at the time,” added Vice President for Administration Deborah. Adishian-Astone.

Adishian-Astone also said that any Title IX or HR complaints filed are conducted properly and handled accordingly by certain policies and in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel.

“As far as accountability, honesty and transparency, that’s what happened as issues were escalated to the appropriate administrators, here on campus and across the board. [CSU] chancellor’s office,” Adishian-Astone said.

Hays offered another virtual audience comment regarding the complaints students want to file, and said the viewer is concerned that complaints not directly related to Title IX will be ignored and overlooked.

Like previous open forums, Jiménez-Sandoval made it clear that this is the goal of the Title IX task force: to look at things beyond these cases, including discrimination, harassment and retaliation. (DHR). Micro and macro aggressions will also be studied, he added.

“If there are any issues, we want to know about them and we will resolve them as well. It’s not just the pressing issues…we will resolve any issues that come to our attention,” Jiménez-Sandoval said.

Jackson said that ASI website and the rector of the university website both have anonymous forms where people can also report any issues.

Jiménez-Sandoval said this is the first such task force that attempts to create an “intersegmental or interconnected system” within CSU that will support victims in all areas in which they need help. aid.

“I take this as an opportunity for Fresno State to lead this process, and I take this as an opportunity for Fresno State to really lead with a system and a process that works for our people, for our community,” he said.

A question posted online and read by Hays said graduate students earn $250 per month per class they teach.

“We have to give more lessons to pay Fresno’s rent, which makes it much harder to focus on our studies. This salary has not increased for at least five years,” the comment read.

Jackson responded that while she was unaware of the situation, it showed the need for a dean for graduate studies. She said there have been discussions about implementing the position in Fresno State.

She noted that graduate students often receive little financial aid and find it increasingly difficult to apply for grants and scholarships. Jackson said it indicated a “system-wide problem,” such as the Title IX case.

“We really need to take the time to understand how we support those who are… taking their education to the next level,” Jackson said.

Melvin B. Baillie