Credit: CSU News Center | Courtesy

The Cal Poly Academic Senate reviewed a resolution on Oct. 25, calling on former CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro to “abort his retreat into the tenured faculty at Cal Poly.”

The Academic Senate, a faculty governing body, discussed Castro’s retreat rights that went into effect after his resignation earlier this year. 

According to the Academic Senate agenda for Oct. 25, the senate will send a message asking Castro to “recognize the disruption” he is creating at Cal Poly by coming to teach at Cal Poly. The senate said this echoes the sentiment Castro himself expressed when he resigned.

Castro’s initial resignation message stated, “resigning at this time is necessary so the CSU can maintain its focus squarely on its educational mission.” 

The senate will be constructing a message worded in a similar fashion to invalidate Castro’s tenured retreat, further ensuring the safety of the campus community. They ask that he reconsiders his retreat given Cal Poly’s ranks as the former leader of the university system, deeming Castro an “internationally recognized figure of a controversial high-profile resignation from this former position” who will continue to create distraction for the campus community.

 “Using the same sentiment, the Academic Senate of Cal Poly asked Dr. Castro to recognize the disruption he’s creating at Cal Poly by joining the instructional faculty here,” Academic Senate chair Tom Gutierrez said at the meeting.

Over the course of the quarter, students, faculty and community members have joined together voicing their opinions on the initial hiring of Castro and why it would reduce the safety of the work environment on Cal Poly’s campus. 

Castro stepped down as CSU Chancellor in February 2022 following a USA Today investigation that revealed his mishandling of sexual harassment complaints during his time as president of Fresno State.

A CSU report detailed Castro’s failure to respond to complaints against one of his Fresno State administrators, Frank Lamas. The report reads that Castro “consistently did not take any significant action against but instead supported Lamas throughout his employment even in the face of multiple allegations, growing evidence, and ultimately, confirmed findings of Lamas’ alleged misconduct.” 

The senate first discussed the uneasiness that this hiring has caused on campus during their first meeting of the school year, on Sept. 20.  The senate shared that though the number of concerns that arose around the hiring mitigated a negative response amongst the campus community, they are required to honor Castro’s retreat rights as part of a court process from September 2020, read in the retreat rights document.

During the meeting, senators expressed their opinions sharing that Castro grossly mismanaged the situation with Title IX allegations and those who have his ear should share the message. 

One senator at an Oct. 4 meeting expressed his discomfort and requested that Castro reconsidered his retreat rights, lest he drag Cal Poly through the mud he kicked up.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) stressed that their focus was to communicate safe resources to faculty and students including well-being counseling and evaluation for those with workplace matters. 

This past Tuesday, the senate worked together to strengthen the message. Gutierrez said he was open to taking suggestions to consolidate the message to Castro. Suggestions included using the word “disruption” rather than “distraction,” as suggested by the Orfalea College of Business Caucus Chair, Stern Neill. 

Neill expressed that after speaking with other faculty members, they wondered if the word distraction “captured the emotional response” and that despite no offer to substitute language, he wanted to “give opportunity for their feelings as they expressed that to [him], in terms of this resolution to be heard.”

Additional language suggestions included using the word “chilling” to describe the effect on Cal Poly community.

The Castro discussion session ended with Gutierrez asking that modifications should be “within the spirit of the resolution as it’s written,” adding that these will be helpful in sending an effective message.