The California State University, the largest public university system in the nation, welcomes it’s first California native Mexican-American Chancellor Joseph I. Castro, Ph. D. Photo Courtesy of California State University
By Robert Rios, Campus Editor
Additional Reporting by Daniel Tom
In a wide-ranging virtual interview with student journalists yesterday, Joseph I. Castro, the recently named chancellor of the California State University system, expressed his support for the system’s new ethnic studies requirement and the CSU’s Basic Needs Intitiative, but did not embrace calls for removing police from university campuses.
“We need to fund our basic needs initiatives and I plan to review where we’re at across the system with the presidents and to do everything that I can to increase resources if they are needed,” Castro said. “So you have my word that I am going to work to address those needs across the system in support of the presidents.”
At February’s Student Research Day at CSUDH, it was announced that more than 60% of CSUDH students deal with some level of food insecurity, and 15 percent deal with housing insecurity.
In 2018 the CSU Chancellor’s Office launched a statewide study to determine how many CSU students were struggling with basic needs like food and housing. Their survey indicated 41.6% of students were food insecure and 10.9% were homeless.
At CSUDH, transgendered students and those with disabilities, along with DACA recipients, reported the highest levels of food insecurity and homelessness; Black students reported more than any other ethnic group.
According to Castro, at California State University, Fresno where he is currently serving as president, the school was able to feed up 5,000 students per month and is now delivering food to students who are away from campus.
Will Look at University Police Funding but not removal
Castro also addressed the presence of police at CSU campuses. He vowed to not remove from campus grounds, but look more into how they are funded.
“We need to have public safety officers in order to protect our facilities and the people who are here, and I know some campuses are not occupied by large numbers of people, but that can also be a time when others who might want to do bad things could take advantage of that opportunity, so to speak,” Castro said.
When asked about Assembly Bill 1460, the ethnic studies graduation requirement signed into law in August, Castro expressed his full support.
“I’m committed to the successful implementation of that bill that’s now law,” said Castro, the first person of color, and Mexican American, to run the CSU. “.And I know that Chancellor [Timothy P.] White and his team have been working with the presidents and provosts too, and the faculty to begin that implementation process, and I’ll look forward to continuing that and completing that as the new chancellor next year,”
White and the CSU board were criticized for trying to introduce an alternative proposal championed by White and approved by the trustees in late July. That bill would have broadened the requirement to include courses ranging from Jewish and LGBTQ studies to classes on social justice or social movements.
Castro is in support of diversity and in his CSU introduction video voiced how he plans to increase diversity among faculty and staff throughout the system.
“I think the first step is for me to have a conversation with the presidents and for us to again reflect on what we have done, what’s worked well, and what more we can do,” Castro said. “I would like us to be in a position where we inspire those graduates to join our faculty. So rather than having a talented graduate of the UC go to Texas or Oklahoma, no offense, I’d rather have them stay here in California. So that’s one of the thoughts that I have and I plan to pursue that with him and also discuss that and other strategies with the presidents and faculty leaders and student leaders as well.”
The Chancellor-Select will start his new role on Jan. 4, 2021 and finish his term at Fresno State this semester.
Another press conference with Castro will be scheduled for January.