Report 2022-109
July 18, 2023

California State University
It Did Not Adequately or Consistently Address Some Allegations of Sexual Harassment

July 18, 2023

The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:

As directed by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, my office conducted an audit of the California State University (CSU) system to assess CSU’s handling of sexual harassment complaints against employees at the Office of the Chancellor (Chancellor’s Office), California State University, Fresno, San José State University, and Sonoma State University. In general, we determined that CSU has not adequately or consistently addressed some allegations of sexual harassment.

The CSU Chancellor’s Office maintains a sexual harassment policy that governs how each of its 23 campuses responds to reports of sexual harassment. We reviewed 40 cases of alleged sexual harassment by CSU employees and found various problems with campuses’ handling of the cases. For example, in the absence of detailed guidelines in CSU’s policy, campuses did not document a clear rationale for closing 11 of those cases without formally investigating the allegations. When campuses did conduct investigations, we found significant deficiencies in seven of the cases, which raised questions about their outcomes. Further, campuses did not consistently take disciplinary or corrective action to address problematic behavior. In one case, a campus found a faculty member responsible for sexual harassment, but it took no action for more than five years. After determining that it had missed the statute of limitations for imposing other disciplinary action, such as suspension, the campus only issued a letter reprimanding the individual for his conduct.

The problems and inconsistencies we found during this audit warrant systemwide changes at CSU. In particular, the Chancellor’s Office must take a more active approach to overseeing campuses’ efforts to prevent and address sexual harassment. It can do so by clarifying and closing gaps in its policies, issuing comprehensive best practices to campuses, collecting and analyzing critical data, and resuming regular reviews of its campuses for compliance with key legal and policy requirements. These efforts would help CSU better protect its students and employees from sexual harassment.

Respectfully submitted,

California State Auditor