California State University mishandled sexual harassment, discrimination complaints, report reveals

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Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Cal State mishandled discrimination, harassment complaints: Report
Sexual harassment and discrimination complaints across California State University are largely ignored, according to a long-awaited report.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new report finds the California State University system mishandled years of sexual misconduct claims, investigators are calling it an '"institutional betrayal."

The report comes as jury selection in the criminal trial of Scott Shaw began Monday.

The former San Jose State head athletic trainer was charged after dozens of former female athletes accused him of sexual assault.

MORE: SJSU named in class action lawsuit linked to sex abuse case involving former athletic trainer

San Jose State University has been named in a class action lawsuit filed Friday in Santa Clara Co. Superior Court involving a former athletic trainer.

The report issued Monday showed sexual harassment claims throughout the CSU system were mishandled for years.

The CSU commissioned the report in March of 2022 following a series of scandals.

Done by outside firm Cozen O'Connor, the report found that the campus system didn't take action on hundreds of misconduct complaints.

At San Jose State, there were nearly 260 sexual misconduct claims in the last school year, with many claims not resulting in a formal investigation.

The report also surveyed students and employees finding that there is a distrust in the CSU system and programs in place to handle complaints.

The firm behind the report said in a summary of it: "While it is not uncommon to observe trust gaps at colleges and universities across the country, we were struck by the breadth and depth of distrust across the CSU and the potential disruptive impacts of that trust gap on the effectiveness of campus Title IX/DHR programs."

MORE: SJSU students rally for more protection against sexual assaults: 'We have not seen much change'

"I am a student-athlete," said current San Jose State senior, Semaj Smith, "So I feel like we trust our coaches enough and they defend us very well."

While Smith says that on a smaller scale she can rely on those trusted resources she acknowledges that many others in the university system don't have that.

"For CSU students as a whole," she said, "I understand there's not a lot of trust in the CSU."

Multiple recommendations have been made including an overhaul of the CSU Title IX services along with discrimination, harassment and retaliation programs.

CSU's interim chancellor says the system is committed to improving its Title IX processes.

RELATED: SJSU to pay $1.6M to student-athletes after sexual harassment investigation: DOJ

The Department of Justice found San Jose State violated Title IX rules and will have to pay $1.6 million to the former athletes who were harassed.

In a statement she said in part:

"We agree with and will implement the recommendations provided in the audit report, as well as those identified in the Cozen assessment, to strengthen our culture of care and compliance and advance the CSU's core values of equity, diversity and inclusion."

San Jose State President Cynthia Teniente-Matson who has been at the University since January also said they will implement recommendations saying:

"Our commitment to our ongoing efforts will require continual alignment of resources and personnel and will be accomplished in stages over the coming months. We will continue to share our progress as it evolves."

For students, like Smith, the hope is that the university system will put words into action.

"Making it to where we do trust, the school," she said. "I don't know how they can do that, because it's hard to gain trust after it's been broken.

To read the full report, click here.

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