Credit: CSU News Center | Courtesy

The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution on Wednesday calling on former Chancellor Joseph Castro to turn down his tenured faculty position at Cal Poly.

Castro resigned as the chancellor of the California State University system in February 2022, after a USA Today investigation outlined his failure to respond to sexual harassment complaints.

As part of his CSU contract, Castro was guaranteed “retreat rights” to Cal Poly as a tenured professor in the Orfalea College of Business Management, HR and Informational Systems Department.

In September 2022, Castro announced that he accepted this position. He’s set to begin teaching in spring quarter, starting April, 3.

The ASI Board of Directors emphasized in their resolution that the Cal Poly community disagrees with Castro’s decision to exercise his retreat rights, citing the 1,152 signatures of a petition that has circulated this year.

“The biggest goal [of the resolution] is to try and dissuade former chancellor Castro from exercising his retreat right,” College of Engineering Representative Siddharth Kartha said to Mustang News. “And our highest hope is that he does not teach at Cal Poly.”

However, in the event Castro does not abandon his retreat rights, the Board of Directors’ resolution asks to limit Castro’s impact on campus. This includes making Castro’s classes elective only or taught by multiple professors so students have a choice.

One of the goals of this resolution is also to spread awareness within the student body about the situation as a whole, including the CSU’s internal investigations of his mishandling, namely the Wegner Report.

“I believe that a large section of the student body is aware of this happening and is unaware of the specifics of you know, what the details of the Wegner Report were,” Kartha said. 

Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier told Mustang News the university is required to honor Castro’s retreat rights.

But to spread awareness about Castro’s retreat in the College of Business, the resolution includes a call for the Cal Poly Administration to make an informational statement.

“If an email or any kind of communication comes from the candidate from, say, the Vice President of Student Affairs, or from President Armstrong, there is a much higher chance that students are going to read it as compared to a department email or an email from a club, or friend,” Kartha added.

The resolution also calls on the administration to acknowledge Castro’s past decisions and the “potential negative impacts.” Also, the board encourages the university to act upon this knowledge by expanding resources for sexual harassment and assault survivors and making future decisions prioritizing the well-being of the student body. 

“The ASI Board of Directors stands with survivors and the Cal Poly community, asking for transparency and continued communication through this process,” Board Chair Marirose Evenden said in an ASI Student Government Instagram post. 

During the meeting, three letters addressing the board about Castro’s retreat were read aloud. 

“Castro is not fit to teach any class at Cal Poly — much less, leadership and public policy,” electrical engineering senior Connor Winnen wrote. “Yes, you heard that right. Castro will be teaching leadership and public policy in the College of Business. That feels like some kind of sick joke.”  

While Castro’s retrieval position is in the College of Business, Kartha expresses that this decision will impact the entire community.

“Having the presence of a faculty member with such a background is not something that’s very comforting to any student, irrespective of what department they’re from,” Kartha said. “And that’s why I think this issue is not limited to OCOB students.”

In July 2022, the CSU Board of Trustees reviewed faculty retreat rights in light of the investigation of Castro’s mishandling of sexual misconduct. The policy details that retreat rights can now be revoked if the subject has evidence of misconduct against them or is under investigation for misconduct.  

“It’s kind of a good thing that the CSU is moving forward with that,” Kartha said about the CSU Board of Trustees policy. “That’s sort of reassuring for us to hear.”

The Cal Poly Academic Senate, a faculty governing body, finalized its own resolution on Nov. 8 also encouraging Castro to drop his position at Cal Poly.

Update, Dec. 3: This article was updated to clarify that the Academic Senate has finalized its resolution regarding Castro’s position.