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  • Writer's pictureClara Wajngurt

Unresolved Bullying at the University Level

Unresolved Bullying at the University Level

Recently there was an uproar at California State University, where the Chancellor had a 'blind spot' for a colleague who abused other colleagues on a lower administrative level than this colleague (Chronicle of Higher Education, K. Mangan, September 29, 2020). Here is the story and let's see what we can learn from this.


J. Castro was President of California State University at Fresno. He heard that a Vice-President for Student Affairs Lamas whom Castro had hired, was sexually harassing, bullying and retaliating against colleagues, who worked under this Vice-President of Student Affairs. This was described in the first of a three part investigative report released about a month ago. HOW DO UNIVERSITIES RESPOND TO BULLYING ON THEIR CAMPUSES?

The investigative report submitted by the California State University Board of Trustees that oversees all 23 campuses of the California system is researching how sexual misconduct is handled in the California system of colleges and universities. The first part of this report focuses on the Fresno campus and how its former President Castro(upgraded to Chancellor of the 23 college and university California system) responded to complaints about his close colleague and friend VP Lamas.


Between 2014-2019 the Fresno campus received nine complaints about F. Lamas, Fresno's VP for Student Affairs. Some of the complaints included that Lamas was accused of touching a female employee inappropriately and implying she would get a promotion in exchange for sexual favors, as well as other complaints. Speakers for Fresno claim that each complaint about Lamas was acted upon, however the alleged abuses by Lamas continued. Administrators at Fresno claimed they are subjected to heavy workloads poor documentation of initiatives and rigid scheduling of meetings. However, President Castro failed to effectively address each of the allegations, and neglected growing evidence of Lamas' behavior. In fact President Castro only counseled Lamas, his friend verbally, persuaded Lamas to attend workplace training, and even had divisions made or glass installed in Lamas' office. Still the abuses continued.


President Castro recommended his friend Lamas to at least eight other presidential appointments in the Cal State system from 2016-2019 and even relied on campus lawyers for advice on how to approach the Lamas situation. How can we allow such actions to continue? We need campus/educational policies that address bullying! FINALE

Finally, President Castro who later became Chancellor was forced to resign from his Chancellor post, because Castro did not efficiently handle sexual harassment and bullying complaints against Lamas. Castro received a $450,000 settlement, with the option to teach in the California system, no administrative appointments. Lamas who created this abusive work environment, was never formally disciplined but paid to leave!!! Under a settlement with Castro. Lamas received a $260,000 payoff, with retirement benefits and a promise of a job recommendation for any college or university out of the California system!!! CONCLUSION

We must incur justice not payoffs, for people who work at our colleges and universities, and who bully others, so we can stop all bullying in its tracks!!! Be aware of what is happening in your working environments!!!


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