Los Gatos Weekly Times
SJSU students call for sex assault protections
Push for the administration to rebuild trust in the wake of athletic trainer scandal
Eight months after the U.S. Department of Justice ordered San Jose State University to overhaul the way it responds to sexual misconduct, students are demanding the administration rebuild trust with the campus community and make it safe to report ha- rassment and abuse in the wake of the school's botched investigations of sexual assault allegations against its former athletic trainer.
The pressure comes at a pivotal point for the California State University system, already under fire for its mishandling of Title Ixrelated cases. State lawmakers have requested an audit of CSU'S 23 campuses to examine their sexual harassment policies and all settlements issued to staff, among other Title IX procedures and processes.
The San Jose State sexual abuse scandal involving Scott Shaw, a former head athletic trainer who is suspected of abusing nearly two dozen former female students, and the administration's neglect under former President Mary Papazian's leadership illuminates a fraction of the Title IX cases recently brought to light around the state.
The fallout went all the way to the top. In February, CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro resigned after a news report revealed allegations he inappropriately handled a sexual assault
case when he was president at Fresno State University. Castro and Papazian resigned from their roles, but students protesting at the San Jose campus May 11 say other university administrators involved in the Shaw case also need to be removed, but they did not name them.
Sage Hopkins, SJSU'S head coach of the women's swimming and diving program who fought to protect his athletes from Shaw and urged administrators to investigate the former athletic director only to be ignored, appeared outside the Spartan Complex with members of Students Against Sexual Assault. They called on administrators to immediately engage with the student body and make amends with the campus community.
Karlie Eacock, a first year student in the Masters in Social Work program, said the school's 36,000 students deserve to know that there are procedures in place for reporting complaints and that the staff in
the Title IX office will be receptive and supportive.
“We think what happened with Scott Shaw damaged the relationship that students have with the campus,” Eacock said. “We think that there's a lot of trauma in that. And there's a lot of healing in that.”
Eacock said over the course of the year that the group SASA found numerous failures to protect students. They have the following demands:
• Hire four more Title IX staffers to fill open and vacant roles.
• Provide regular quarterly reports to the “entirety of the campus community stating clearly what improvements are being made” to protect students.
• Remove any administrator “who is complicit in the case involving Scott Shaw” to “rebuild trust with the campus community.”
In an emotional moment, Hopkins, who blew the whistle on the administration's failures to properly handle the case
against Shaw and sued four university administrators who tried to discredit him, said he's not a hero in the situation but did “what any responsible employee would do.”
Hopkins read aloud a statement from a student who said she was abused by Shaw and reported it and waited as years went by and nothing happened.
“In 2010, I was sexually abused by a member of the SJSU training department. When I spoke out, I realized I wasn't alone. With the courage and support of both my teammates and coach, I went to the SJSU police department. I spoke to university officers and members of the HR department. I gave a full report and I watched as SJSU administrators wrote down my story,” the unidentified student wrote. “Years later, I learned that this report along with the reports of my teammates and other
brave student athletes somehow disappeared. Our integrity, our honesty and our abuse were buried.”
Interim SJSU President Stephen Perez said the university is “trying to hire people as fast as we possibly can” to its Title IX office, and administrators will release a status update before the end of the semester. CSU has contracted with an outside firm to investigate SJSU'S handling of the Shaw case, Perez said, and administrators are “awaiting the results of that investigation, and when we have them we'll respond to it.”
In response to the students' entreaties to fire administrators who were complicit in the Shaw cover-up, Perez said, “We will do what we need to do.” He said he will meet with the student protesters on Monday.
In an email, Kenneth Mashinchi, a spokesman for the university, said the
Title IX and Gender Equity Office has been “meeting with campus stakeholders to understand community concerns, explore barriers to reporting … and learn other ways in which SJSU can better serve its community.”
Mashinchi said there were 11 complaints filed during the 2021-22 school year that sparked Title IX investigations.
Perez said he's unsure if the low number of investigation requests to the office means students aren't comfortable coming forward, but he urged students who have been sexually assaulted or harassed on campus to tell the university.
“We need to know about it,” Perez said. “They need to communicate that with us, and if they're comfortable with us doing an investigation, we will. They can talk to our police, they can talk to the Title IX office.”