Assemblymember Salas Passes Sweeping Audit of CSU Sexual Harassment Policies

Historic group of 40+ bipartisan legislators signed on in support of Salas’ audit investigation

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, passed a substantial audit request, which will direct the California State Auditor’s Office to review California State University’s handling of sexual harassment and violence allegations. Assemblymember Salas’ audit request has a historic group of 46 bipartisan legislators cosigned and supporting this investigation. The audit request passed the Joint Legislative Audit Committee with bipartisan support, and will also review CSU’s use of golden parachute or executive compensation packages that can result in executives being paid their full salaries 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’s Office 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. Students, faculties, and other members of the CSU community have expressed a loss of confidence in the university’s handling of sexual harassment complaints and its hiring and separate practices. I believe an independent audit of the CSU’s investigative process and its executive compensation practices is a necessary first-step in building back the public’s trust in the CSU. The results of this audit will provide much needed transparency and allow us 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 highlevel 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. Earlier this month, the Times reported that San Diego State University still has not launched a Title IX investigation into rape allegations against football players at the University, more than seven months after the alleged incident. 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.

“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.”

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved several audits today, including a request to audit the California Department of Technology by Assemblymember Petrie-Norris, a request to audit the California School Finance Authority by Assemblymember Bonta, and a request to audit the California Community Colleges by Assemblymember Low.

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Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.