Editorial: Joseph Castro never deserved to be CSU Chancellor


Joseph Castro speaks to Sacramento State over Zoom as well as in person during his first visit to the campus as Chancellor on Nov. 3, 2021. Castro lied about the constant Title IX violations of his Vice President of Student Affairs in order to become chancellor.

Joseph Castro resigned from the position of California State University Chancellor on Feb. 17 because of a USA Today article that found he covered Title IX violations committed by one of his subordinates while he was President of Fresno State.

It started in 2014, when then president of Fresno State Castro called upon Frank Lamas to serve as vice president of Student Affairs. 

The USA Today article is based on the multiple investigations into Lamas for harassment, stalking and retaliation that led to the resignation of at least one victim who could, “not tolerate [Lamas’] behavior anymore,” according to documents part of the investigation.

According to a USA today article that was published on Feb. 4, Lamas had Title IX complaints within his first week on the job.

The complaints continued for six years, until Castro was beginning to be considered as CSU chancellor and finally acted on the complaints and separated Lamas from the CSU system.

But Lamas wasn’t fired. He was rewarded with a recommendation letter and a full year’s salary. 

Castro then went on to become the CSU chancellor, a position with direct contact to every CSU student and professor. He could have come forward at any moment and told  Fresno State at the least about his mistake.

As a first generation immigrant and California native, Castro had the responsibility to be an example of dignity and integrity. Instead, he acted in greed to gain power and control over 23 colleges.

Castro resigned so that the CSU system can shift its focus toward pursuing its educational goals, “focus squarely on its educational mission,” according to statements Castro provided for the CSU website.

Castro never deserved to be chancellor in the first place. His actions invalidate the Title IX system.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex. The law  is a major combatant in a male-oriented society with a bare understanding of consent.

Title IX exists to protect victims and provide a safe place apart from harassment and discrimination. By protecting someone who reportedly harassed his employees and intern over the span of 6 years, for a total of 12 formal Title IX complaints, you become a violation to the Title IX system. 

We deserve a CSU Chancellor and a CSU board that leads with integrity and doesn’t try to cover up their embarrassments.

Violating the Title IX system invalidates the pain of the victims of Lamas’ harassment. It makes the people who work for CSU’s and students like us not trust in the Title IX process. It makes us feel unsafe when we need to stand up for ourselves and call on someone else’s mistakes.

Castro initially defended himself, telling  the CSU system in a direct letter that as soon as the complaint was filed Lamas was removed from campus in four days

But Lamas was not removed from Fresno State; for another six years. Removing Lamas after the 12th complaint in a few days is not enough because Castro had 11 other opportunities to dismiss him.

On Feb. 17 Castro stepped down from the CSU chancellor position which he never deserved. But Castro is still allowed to be a professor at Cal Poly SLO.

A man who diminished the power of Title IX because of his greed does not deserve a tenured teaching position within the same CSU system that he failed. 

If Cal Poly decides to take Castro on staff they will be endangering their community by placing students under the authority of someone complicit in Title IX violations. 

A day later, Sacramento State president Robert Nelsen issued a “President’s Update” to students and staff on campus, where he haphazardly addressed the situation. 

Nelsen failed to condemn Castro or Lamas in his message to campus. Instead, his attention was diverted to assuring  students that they could trust the Title IX system at Sac State.

Additionally, he sent out this notice just two minutes after an email was issued about the upcoming HEERF III grant, diluting the impact of any effort to assure Sac State that Castro’s actions were abhorrent.

Castro finally did the right thing by stepping down, but he never deserved the position in the first place. 

Castro should instead work to uphold the Title IX system and advocate for the victims of harassment to undo the damage that he did by protecting Lamas. 

The CSU system and its students deserve  a direct apology. No excuses, just accountability.