Title IX task force releases its final report, announcing open forums


Edward Lopez/The Collegian

On Feb. 21, Fresno State announced that the Title IX task force completed its final report.

By Jiselle Cardenas, News Editor

After Frank Lamas, former Fresno State vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, was accused of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct, the university has had to respond to reports of additional Title IX violations.

On Feb. 21, the university announced that its Title IX task force has completed its final report, which has been released for review. President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval will host two virtual open forums to allow the community to learn more about the findings of the task force.

The forums are scheduled for noon on Thursday, March 9, and 1 p.m. Friday, March 10, on Zoom. The virtual webinar links can be accessed here and here.

“In order to give everyone an opportunity to hear about the findings and recommendations, I invite you to attend one of the two virtual open forums,” Jiménez-Sandoval said in a campuswide email.

Fresno State instituted a Title IX task force made up of members who represent the larger community of students, faculty and staff. Established by Jiménez-Sandoval and spearheaded by Bernadette T. Muscat, Title IX task force chair, the main goal of the force is to strengthen the preventative measures that aim to combat sexual harassment and assault in the Fresno State community.

The task force originally began work in May 2022, and since then, according to the final report, has been tasked with:

  • Identifying strategies that can help build trust and a transparent process for how reports and responses to incidents of sexual harassment and assault are handled.
  • Identifying strategies that address concerns in areas outside of the scope of Title IX and Department of Human Resources offices that are vital to make the campus welcoming, inclusive and equitable.
  • Review the recommendations of the ongoing external assessment and respond appropriately.

“The task force report is final. However, the task force recommended ongoing assessment to determine campus needs that will guide how the campus proceeds in addressing Title IX/DHR matters,” Muscat told The Collegian.

The task force has worked collaboratively with Cozen O’Connor, a third-party evaluator, which is conducting an assessment of the university’s implementation of Title IX/DHR. The assessment is being conducted across 23 CSU campuses.

The recently merged Title IX/DHR office is now located in the University Student Union in efforts to be centrally located for easy accessibility to students and employees.

“As noted in the task force report, when a matter is brought forward, sometimes it is not clear if it is a Title IX or DHR matter,” said Muscat, regarding the recent merger of the two offices. “The task force recommended that the office be consolidated to decrease the amount of time that it takes to determine if a matter needs to be addressed by Title IX, DHR or another office entirely.”

She clarified that the Survivor Advocacy Department will not be combined with the Office of Title IX and DHR. The task force recommended the two departments relocate to be in close proximity to each other.

Muscat told The Collegian the convenience of this would be because as complainants request Survivor Advocacy services, they can be readily available.

The university has added three new positions to the Title IX/DHR office: deputy Title IX coordinator, deputy DHR coordinator and a second survivor advocate.

“The deputies of Title IX and DHR will provide case management support and will assist with varied complex duties, tasks and projects in accordance with policy and administrative compliance, including training and outreach efforts related to their respective programmatic areas,” according to the final report.

The assessment will determine if additional survivor advocates need to be hired, according to Muscat.

Lastly, the university will partner with another external evaluator that will ensure accountability and transparency after the Cozen O’Connor assessment finishes gauging the needs of the school. The new evaluator is meant to hold the university accountable as it gradually implements the recommendations of the task force and ongoing systemwide assessment, once it is completed.

Mustcat said apart from the online training modules students are mandated to complete, the emergence of more opportunities where students can become educated on Title IX will be coming soon.

“The 30-page report is an essential guiding document that allows our campus to move forward together to build a culture that improves credibility and works to restore trust in our institutional process and procedures,” said Jiménez-Sandoval in a statement on the Title IX task force webpage.

For more information, visit the Title IX task force webpage. If you have experienced harassment or misconduct, contact [email protected].

For students who need assistance, visit the Survivor Advocate website or the Counseling Center. Faculty and staff can also visit the Survivor Advocate website, or visit the Employee Assistance Program.