Report Gives CSU Failing Grades for Its Handling of Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Complaints

California State University today released a report that concluded that steps the system took to respond to a number of high-profile sexual misconduct cases – including an athletic trainer at San Jose State University whose trial for civil rights violations began today in U.S. District Court in San Jose – aren’t enough to rebuild trust that has eroded over decades.

“There is still significant work to be done to ensure that the CSU's universities are welcoming environments for students, faculty and staff, free of discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct,” the report said.

Following the release of the nearly year-long assessment, the California State University administration released a statement that says the 23-university system “has committed to improving its Title IX and other non-discrimination programs prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on protected categories and, in doing so, strengthen its culture of care and compliance.”

The release of the report on the day that jury selection began in the federal trial of former San Jose State athletic trainer Scott Shaw on federal civil rights charges also came less than a week after CSU trustees announced the appointment of a new chancellor, Mildred Garcia, effective Oct. 1.

Garcia is a former president of CSU Dominguez Hill and CSU Fullerton. She is the current president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C.

The report also followed by 17 months the resignation of CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro amid allegations that he mishandled sexual harassment complaints against a university official while he was president of Fresno State.

“The CSU’s Commitment to Change,” billed as “the largest and most comprehensive review of its kind, found that the CSU will need to expand its infrastructure and resources to best address the complex landscape of Title IX and discrimination cases, including prevention, education and complaint resolution.

“There is currently no framework to provide the level of supervision that would help promote more consistent, effective practices across the system,” the report concluded.

Prepared by the Institutional Response Group of the Cozen O'Connor law firm, the full Cozen report is publicly available here and on the CSU Cozen Title IX Assessment webpage, where the CSU will also post regular updates on the implementation of the recommendations.

According to the report, centralized oversight and accountability measures will play an important role in rebuilding the community's trust in the CSU's ability to more effectively protect its students, faculty and staff, and ensure a culture and climate on campuses that is welcoming, inclusive and respectful.

“The systemwide and university recommendations outlined in this report provide a pathway that moves us from where we have fallen short to a stronger and more vital university system," Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester said in a statement today. “To bring about meaningful, authentic and sustained change, the entire Cal State community must walk this path together.”

“We will not squander this opportunity,” Koester pledged. “We will get this right. The CSU's mission and core values demand it and our community deserves it."

In March 2022, the CSU Board of Trustees commissioned Cozen O'Connor to conduct a comprehensive systemwide independent assessment of the university's implementation of Title IX and other anti- discrimination programs following reports of sexual harassment and other misconduct.

The goal of the assessment—which included site visits to all 23 CSU universities and the Chancellor's Office and feedback from more than 18,000 students, staff and faculty—was to strengthen the culture in the workplace and the classroom so that it is better aligned with the CSU's core values.

The assessment considered current practices and provided insights, recommendations and resources to advance the CSU's Title IX and DHR training, awareness, prevention, intervention, compliance and support systems, as well as campus culture and climate.

“The CSU Board of Trustees would like to thank Cozen O'Connor for its methodical and comprehensive examination of the CSU's Title IX and DHR programming," said CSU Board of Trustees Chair Wenda Fong. “The findings and recommendations of this assessment provide the CSU with a vital, valuable and necessary roadmap to realize its potential to become a national leader in responding to Title IX and discrimination, harassment and retaliation matters."​

According to the report, in some instances, the CSU has already taken steps to address the concerns publicly identified and assessed through the review.Cozen's recommendations also include steps to address ongoing concerns, including issues related to barriers to reporting or participating in lengthy campus complaint processes, concerns about retaliation and challenges in the accountability processes for represented employees.

Meanwhile, Shaw faces up to six years in prison for misdemeanor charges in connection complaints by four former student athletes.. He resigned in 2020.

In September 2021, SJSU agreed to pay $1.6 Million and, adopt reforms to settle athletes’ claims of sexual harassment.

Former Athletic Director Marie Tuite resigned in 2021as details of the scandal grew. The next year, in October, Mary Papazian resigned as president of San Jose State, amid a crescendo of criticism of her handling of the complaints against Shaw..

The Mercury News reported Sunday that court documents filed by federal prosecutors reveal that the accusations against Shaw are worse than first reported and go beyond the women’s swim team, to athletes in the women’s water polo, soccer, volleyball and softball teams.


Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.

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