External Reviews

In recent years, our Title IX program was reviewed by three external entities: the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“Department” or “DOJ”), Cozen O’Connor’s Institutional Response Group (“Cozen”), and the California State Auditor (“CSA”). We valued each of these opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of our Title IX program and protocols to prevent and respond to sex-based discrimination, and to foster gender equity. Each of these three reviews are summarized below. For ease of reference, a chronology of the Department’s investigation, the Cozen assessment, and the CSA audit [pdf] is available; alternate text of the chronology is also available [pdf].

The Department of Justice

In June 2020, the DOJ commenced an investigation into the sufficiency of SJSU’s response to prior reports of sexual harassment and assault involving its former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw. The investigation was completed in the fall of 2021, and the results were disheartening.

In September 2021, SJSU entered into a Resolution Agreement [pdf] with the Department. As part of the Resolution Agreement, the university committed to: 1) building a Title IX program that is approachable and responsive to the needs of its campus community; 2) providing remedies to the student-athletes harmed by the former Director of Sports Medicine; and 3) better ensuring the safe provision of sports medicine treatments to its student-athletes. To promote accountability, SJSU agreed to a four-year monitoring period by the Department, allowing the Department to actively monitor the university’s Title IX program through AY 2024-25.

On August 15, 2023, Scott Shaw pleaded guilty in criminal court for unlawfully touching female student-athletes under the guise of providing medical treatment. The Department’s public announcement on the outcome of the court proceedings is available on their website.

Since September 2021, the university has invested substantial thought and resources into its Title IX program. For instance, in July 2022, the university engaged a national subject matter expert to serve as its interim Title IX and Gender Equity Officer. Additionally, the university has increased Title IX-staffing (from 1 employee in September 2021 to 6 employees in January 2024); relocated its Title IX Office to a new and improved location; improved the timeliness and quality of its investigations; created a more compassionate, holistic, and timely response to new reports; substantially increased the number of Title IX trainings delivered to campus; and launched a new campus marketing campaign to raise awareness of these efforts. We continue to strive to offer a welcoming environment, a warm atmosphere of support, and clear communications with everyone who interacts with our office.

The Office for Title IX and Equal Opportunity has devoted special attention to efforts to protect the university’s student athletes from potential future harm. All student-athletes, athletic staff, and outside professionals who work regularly with our student-athletes undergo annual training on Title IX protections tailored to their experience, as well as training on their rights under the Wellbeing Attendant Policy. Wellbeing Attendants, or “Chaperones,” are available to all participants in any Sports Medicine Encounter, and required for most treatments involving Sensitive Areas.

Cozen O’Connor and the CSA

In addition, during AY 2023-24, SJSU’s Title IX program was assessed by two other external entities: Cozen and the CSA. Here are the interim Title IX and Gender Equity Officer’s responses to questions about last summer’s CSA audit results and Cozen assessment.

The scope and purpose of these external reviews were similar in certain respects and different in other respects, as described below. 

Key Similarities:

Both the CSA and Cozen reviewed San José State’s Title IX program. Additionally, they both delivered recommendations to the CSU’s systemwide Title IX Compliance Office. In their reports, both the CSA and Cozen recommended that the CSU’s central Title IX Compliance Office provide more oversight to each campus to ensure the consistent implementation of best practices at the campus level.

Key Differences:

For background, the CSA’s audit was authorized by the state of California and was motivated, in large part, by negative publicity at SJSU, Fresno State, and Sonoma State. The media attention highlighted how each of these three campuses could have better handled reports and complaints of sexual harassment made against high-level employees.

In the summer of 2022, the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved an audit of CSU’s response to reports and complaints of sexual harassment implicating its employees. The audit was conducted by CSA during AY 2022-23, and focused on the Chancellor’s Office and three CSU campuses: SJSU, Fresno State, and Sonoma State. The results of the audit were shared in a public report released on July 18, 2023.

All assessment reports by Cozen are available on the Cal State Title IX website.

Cozen was was voluntarily engaged by the CSU. The CSU asked Cozen to conduct a systemwide assessment of its Title IX and Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation (DHR) programs. The reason for the engagement was to find ways to strengthen the CSU’s systems of care and compliance. The assessment concluded in July 2023, and resulted in a public report for the system, as well as separate reports for each campus. The reports identify core observations and recommendations for improvements at both the system and university levels. SJSU's specific campus report is available on the Calstate website.

Scope of the Audits:

The CSA’s audit was more narrow in scope. As stated above, the CSA focused its review on three campuses – SJSU, Fresno State, and Sonoma State – and only reviewed how each of those campuses handled reports of sexual harassment involving employees.

Cozen’s assessment was more expansive; it extended to all 23 CSU campuses and the Chancellor’s Office, included a review of how each campus responds to reports involving both students and employees, and evaluated each campus’s Title IX and Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation (DHR) programs.

Additionally, the CSA evaluated specific cases whereas Cozen looked more broadly at implementation and did not evaluate the university’s response to specific cases.

Results of the Audits:

The CSA made recommendations, but not directed to SJSU; they were for the Chancellor’s Office. 

Cozen made system-wide and campus-specific recommendations. Cozen’s primary recommendation for SJSU was to merge/combine the Title IX and DHR offices into a single entity. At that time, the Title IX and DHR offices were separate. This recommendation, combined with input from our campus, led to the creation of the Office for Title IX and Equal Opportunity. We are confident that handling all reports of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and sexual misconduct in a single office will provide better access to care, prevention, and resolution options for our community.

Adoption of the Cozen Recommendations:

To implement all of the recommendations (4) from Cozen, the university empaneled a Campus Implementation Team that includes a diverse set of campus constituents.

The members of the CIT are as follows:

Peter Lim, Chair, Interim AVP for Title IX and Equal Opportunity;
Julie Paisant, Senior Director Retention, Employee Relations, and Whistleblower Administrator;
Karthika Sasikumar, Chair, Academic Senate and Professor of Political Science;
Angee Ortega, Associate Resource Analyst, Lucas College & Graduate School of Business;
Dominic Treseler, Class of 2024, President, CSU Student Association;
Sarab Multani, Class of 2025, President & CEO at Associated Students, SJSU;
Shawn Whalen, Chief of Staff and Senior AVP; and
Mary Keating, Civil Rights Investigator.

The two student representatives (Dominic and Sarab) will be replaced by new student officers at the start of the 2024-2025 academic year.