Historic group of 40+ bipartisan legislators sign on supporting Salas’ audit investigation
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, announced his submission of a substantial audit request, which will direct the California State Auditor to review California State University’s handling of sexual harassment and violence allegations. Assemblymember Salas’ audit request has a historic group of 43 bipartisan legislators co-signed and supporting this investigation. The audit—once approved by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee—will also review CSU’s use of golden parachute executive compensation packages that can result in executives being paid and receiving other benefits, even if they are connected to sexual harassment and violence allegations.
“The recent sexual harassment allegations involving several CSU campuses, as well as the Chancellor’s Office, is unacceptable and warrants the scrutiny and impartiality that only the State Auditor can provide,” said Assemblymember Salas. “It is unacceptable for this nation’s largest four-year public university system to have such widespread sexual harassment allegations and payouts. The discrepancy in campus-by-campus dealings and golden parachutes for top administrators reeks of inconsistencies and bias. Only an independent audit can help clear the way to create consistent policies that will help protect our students and faculty at our largest four year institutions.”
Recent news reports raise concerns regarding the CSU’s handling of complaints relating to sexual violence and sexual harassment, particularly those involving staff and prominent administrators. In March, the Los Angeles Times reported that Fresno State University had mishandled years of sexual harassment complaints, which resulted in payouts, retaliation against victims, and high-level resignations. In April, the Times reported that CSU paid $600,000 to settle a claim with a Sonoma State provost who reported retaliation and sexual harassment allegations involving the campus president and her husband. Last year, they also reported that San Jose State reached a $3.3 million settlement with 15 former student athletes who were reportedly sexually harassed by a longtime sports trainer. The settlement followed a federal civil rights investigation that found San Jose State University did not take adequate action in response to the athletes’ reports and retaliated against two employees who raised repeated concerns to the university.
“I am proud to join Assemblymember Salas in calling for an audit of the CSU’s sexual harassment policies, after numerous recent sexual harassment allegations involving several CSU campuses have been in the news,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). “This investigation will bring transparency and accountability to our University system to ensure that all students and employees are free from an environment of harassment and discrimination. I look forward to the Auditor’s findings and recommendations on how we can best reform and strengthen these policies.”
“I am pleased to join Assemblymember Salas in his audit request of the CSU system’s handling of the sexual harassment and sexual violence complaints that have come to light recently, as well as other related potential Title IX issues at Fresno State and the university system,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino). “From the moment USA Today published its initial findings in early February, I have spoken publicly and reiterated the need to get to the bottom of what happened so we can ensure that it never happens again. I believe that an audit is certainly needed so we can promote transparency and accountability at Fresno State and the entire California State University system.”
Assemblymember Salas will officially present this audit request on June 27, when the Joint Legislative Audit Committee meets to consider new audit requests.