President Castro fields student questions at open forum

Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro held an open mic forum on Nov. 5 in the Henry Madden Library.

The forum provided students an opportunity to share what was on their minds in regards to their experiences at Fresno State.

Students in the half-empty room discussed topics such as improvements on student housing, campus building renovations, enrollment and capacity, graduation and the university’s final decision in response to controversial comments made by a Fresno State professor.

The forum opened with a question pertaining to where the university stands after professor Randa Jarrar’s tweets about Barbara Bush after her death last spring.

Castro replied that after looking at the situation carefully, the university’s decision in keeping the professor at Fresno State was “the only response we can make.”

“It was the appropriate response, because it was consistent to the First Amendment,” said Castro. “I believed after looking at it carefully, at all the facts in the situation, it was the most appropriate decision, and I felt the only decision we could make.”

“Now, even though someone can say something legally, that doesn’t mean that you should say it, in my view,” Castro said. “I think that one of the areas of focus that we’re taking is to have that conversation on campus with our faculty, staff and students as to how do we conduct ourselves and what does it mean be a citizen at Fresno State.”

About seven students followed by voicing their concerns or questions regarding the university.

An international student called attention to sports, asking how one could get involved with a team at Fresno State after she had unsuccessfully tried to join the equestrian team.

Another student spoke up about not feeling safe walking at night in certain areas of the campus where there is not enough lighting. Castro answered that he would look into that and that it was the first time this has come up in a forum.

“I think it’s really unique that we have a president who has these forums and he has them so often, and it feels really nice to be heard,” said Gina De Young, communications assistant at Associated Students, Inc. (ASI). “He really wants to have genuine connections with people and really hear from them, and I’m really appreciative that he does these.”

There is a forum held for faculty and staff each semester, as well. In addition, there are one or two community forums in the Valley each semester in different locations in which alumni and friends are invited from that community, according to Castro.  

“I appreciate that students took time out of their busy schedule to come and share with me their questions and concerns,” said Castro. “I always learn from these forums, and I think our university is getting stronger every day because we’re listening carefully to the students, faculty and staff, and we’ll continue to do that and get stronger and better every single day.”

The next planned forum will be in the spring online.

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