CSU to Release Assessment of Title IX Issues After Systemwide Audit



The California State University Board of Trustees will release an assessment following a report on a system-wide Title IX audit scheduled to be delivered at 8:30 a.m. at its meeting tomorrow. The law firm Cozen O’Connor received feedback from nearly 18,000 CSU community members through anonymous surveys and in-person visits. The announcement at the trustees' meeting is public and will be available for live streaming.

“The CSU is initiating a Title IX assessment across the nation's largest public four-year higher education system to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff," stated acting CSU Executive Vice Chancellor Steve Relyea. “We will continue to fortify our commitment to be leaders of Title IX innovation and response."

The audit comes after the resignation of Joseph I. Castro as CSU chancellor over his mishandling of a Title IX sexual harassment case — and the USA Today investigation of former Cal Poly Humboldt Dean John Lee. Lee was fired from his administrative role after an investigation found he'd groped two colleagues, but he later returned to a teaching position at Cal Poly Humboldt under a “retreat rights” clause in his contract. The CSU will revise its practices relating to the ability of an administrator to retreat to a faculty position.

“Retreat rights are very important and valuable to our community," said Relye. “That opportunity to retreat should be extended to individuals in good standing with the CSU, not to individuals who have engaged in significant misconduct. The policy needs systemwide clarity, consistency and modernization, thus, we are reforming it."

In his fall 2022 semester welcome address, Cal Poly Humboldt President Tom Jackson made an inflammatory statement about the university’s position in the public eye regarding Title IX reports. Jackson called Cal Poly Humboldt "a campus filled with secrets” and said that survivors who tell their stories publicly do so "for personal gain" or to take a "nip at the university.” Jackson later apologized for the comments.

Cozen O’Conner attorneys visited Cal Poly Humboldt for three days of interviews in December, several months after the university’s Academic Senate passed a resolution in support of sexual survivors that charged Jackson’s welcome address comments had “led to additional harm and a feeling of distrust.”

While CSU administrators have described Cozen O’Conner’s audit as an “inflection point” and an “opportunity to fundamentally change the way” the system treats its staff and students, the California Faculty Association lambasted it as a “performative review by a risk management law firm.”

In order to prepare to implement the recommendations of Cozen O’Conner’s Title IX audit, the CSU asked each campus president to form a team of students, faculty, staff stakeholders and university Title IX and human resources staff to apply the Cozen O’Connor recommendations. Jackson’s team at Cal Poly Humboldt consists of seven administrators (Title IX Coordinator David Hickox, Interim Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs Kimberly White, Chief Human Resources Officer Deborah Doel-Hammond, Interim Dean of Students Adrienne Colegrave-Raymond, Senior Director of Housing Donyet King, Vice President of Administration and Finance Sherie Gordon and Safety Services Coordinator Xena Pastor-Nulia) one student (Associate Students Chair Juan Guerrero) one professor (James Woglom) and a coach (women’s soccer head coach Grant Landy).

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