Credit: Cal State University News | Courtesy

Marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of Title IX, Cal State University Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester sent a university-wide letter on June 23 regarding the CSU’s “systemwide assessment” of Title IX policies and practices.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any academic environment that receives federal funding. This can look like requiring schools to accept procedures to file sexual harassment or violence complaints. 

Koester didn’t explicitly name the Title IX scandal of former Chancellor Joseph Castro, who resigned earlier this year. She wrote that “as recent media reports have made painfully clear,” the CSU has “fallen short” in its effort to make campuses “free of discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct.”

The CSU Board of Trustees first announced the Title IX assessment in March. The Cozen O’ Connor firm in charge of the assessment will start the process with Fresno State University. Castro was Fresno State’s president when he failed to respond to sexual misconduct complaints against one of his top administrators. 

Koester said she’s personally faced gender discrimination, sexually inappropriate behavior and physical intimidation.

“While I am pleased with the Board’s fast action, I also want to communicate more clearly to the CSU’s stakeholders regarding what that assessment will look like – and about the principles and values that will inform and guide our efforts,” Koester wrote. 

Ensuring that these assessments aren’t another “bureaucratic check-the-box exercise,” Koester wrote that based on the assessments and recommendations, the CSU system will “strengthen our culture of care.”

“We will work to remove barriers to reporting, better educate constituents regarding their Title IX obligations, address instances of retaliation and ensure access to survivor advocates, effective employee assistance programs and physical and mental health care services,” Koester said in the letter.

By educating and spreading awareness with “ongoing prevention programs, awareness, campaigns, and bystander education,” Koester hopes to address issues that perpetuate an environment that condemns sexual misconduct and violence. 

“Students and employees who see positive outcomes and accountability and who understand that they will be supported by their community if they come forward – and not be marginalized – are more likely to report,” Koester wrote. “And a more educated and enlightened campus community is less likely to engage in sexual misconduct, and more likely to intervene when they see it.”