Editor’s Note: Tweets from author and Fresno State professor Randa Jarrar are triggering national outrage. Some people are saying they will no longer support the university. Here is Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro’s response:
I know that many of our friends are upset, and I’m upset, too. I’m upset by what I saw, and what I heard that night.
Again, that does not exemplify what we do here at Fresno State in preparing the next generation of leaders, and I think it’s very important for us to condemn that part of what was done and said. And at the same time, as we uphold our First Amendment rights that all of us enjoy, the most important thing, I believe, is for us to continue to role model leadership here on this campus, and we are working hard every single day to educate our students to be successful, to be leaders, and we’re doing that better than ever because the community has been supportive of us, and I ask them to continue that support and to trust that we’ll make the appropriate determination.
Joseph I. Castro
Fresno State President
A single set of tweets does not define the success of our university. We’re bigger and stronger and more dynamic than ever, and I ask the community to continue their support for our university and our best days are certainly ahead.
At Fresno State, we’re absolutely committed to the freedom of speech for each and every one of us. The concern that I had about those tweets was related to the timing and the fact that it lacked any compassion or respect, and what we’ve been trying to focus on here at Fresno State, is the idea of having a civic … a civil and respectful dialogue, even when we disagree, and I have a deep concern with people who are not following those kinds of principles here at Fresno State and not modeling leadership for our students.
I’m Listening to Your Concerns
Ever since I’ve been president of Fresno State, I’ve really emphasized the listening part of my job, and I’m especially listening right now to the concerns that everybody has across the board, and so I promise that I’ll continue to do that, and I promise that we will follow our appropriate policies and laws and make the best determination possible — just as we do with all big decisions at the university, and I want to welcome additional input.
If our community wants to share more of their concerns, I’m happy to listen to those and to read about them. There are different ways to do that, and I think it’s important as a public university that we do that — that we offer that opportunity and that we take into consideration the different views that people have on topics of importance.
I Understand Why People Are Upset
I’d ask the community to look at the university as a whole, and, yes, I understand why many of us are so upset. I’m upset as well, but I don’t think the appropriate action is to do harm to our students. They deserve our support. They’re part of the bright future of the Valley, so I ask our community to trust that we will do the right thing and that our university will get stronger and stronger in the days and months and years to come with their support. It’s about the university and the community coming together as one.
My message to the students and families is I strongly encourage them to continue their plan to come. We received 26,000 applications this year for a class of 5,000 students. Demand is higher than ever before and that’s because of the quality work of our faculty and staff, and, again, I wouldn’t judge these tweets from one professor as determining the success of our university.