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Castro Speaks: Jarrar, Bartko and Bulldog Stadium Upgrades

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Fresno State President Joseph Castro welcomed students and faculty back to campus Monday (Aug. 21) in a pair of assemblies at the Save Mart Center. A record 25,200 students enrolled, 78% from the Central Valley.
Despite the uproar over controversial comments from a professor, the school announced charitable giving increased 22%.
Castro spoke to the media after the events. Here are the highlights:

Randa Jarrar


“If those kinds of comments were made directly to a student in a classroom, that is a whole different matter.”Joseph Castro on Randa Jarrar
Castro addressed the Randa Jarrar controversy during the faculty assembly and with the media. He is taking a pro-First Amendment approach.
“More speech, clarifying our views, understanding each other, listening to each other—that makes our campus stronger; that makes our democracy stronger,” Castro said.
Jarrar, known little outside academic and literary circles, boosted into the national scene after her Twitter posts following the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush. Jarrar called her an amazing racist.”
Fresno State professor Randa Jarrar
Randa Jarrar
Many found Jarrar’s criticism of Bush to be unacceptable, creating a backlash in the Fresno State community. Castro said at the time, that although he felt the comments disgraceful, she would not face punishment.
Since then, comments from Jarrar surfaced, insulting farmers, and white editors.
GV Wire asked Castro where he draws the line of free speech regarding social media and video statements attributed to Jarrar.
“The comments that came out recently and even before were on a private social media channel. If those kinds of comments were made directly to a student in a classroom, that is a whole different matter,” Castro said.
Fresno State will hold a First Amendment forum Sep. 17. Additionally, the Academic Senate will discuss social media practices for faculty in future meetings.

Bulldog Stadium


Fresno State Athletic Director Terry Tumey
Athletic Director Terry Tumey
Castro updated the progress on fixing and renovating Bulldog Stadium. Last season, the stadium fell into a partial state of disrepair, in part because of a broken water line.
“We have strengthened the whole east side. I can tell you it is safe,” Castro assured.
Additionally, the school installed rails to help older fans up and down the stairs.
“Our next phase, with (new athletic director) Terry Tumey’s leadership, is to enhance the overall experience there. We are going to improve bathrooms, make it more ADA compliant. We are going to look at ways to make the experience more comfortable for our fans of all ages,” Castro said.
Tumey announced during the new student convocation, that freshmen will be able to attend the first football game of the season — Sept. 1 vs. Idaho — for free and be able to run on the field for the pre-game introductions.
Castro said the improvements will come over time. He said the school needs to replace the field’s turf in the next year or two.

Responding to Bartko


“I believe based on the facts of the situation, that I did what any reasonable administrator would do. I am comfortable with that.”Castro on former AD Jim Bartko
The man that Tumey replaced, Jim Bartko, recently landed a fundraising position at the University of Oregon. He talked about his separation from Fresno State in recent newspaper interviews.
“I was blindsided,” Bartko told The Oregonian about his fateful meeting with Castro and Vice President Deborah Adishian-Astone. Technically, Bartko resigned in Nov. 2017, accepting $75,000 in severance.
He also told the paper that Castro and Adishian-Astone labeled him “an incompetent alcoholic” at the meeting.
Bartko admitted to drinking issues, related to revelations he was molested by a basketball coach in his youth.
Castro continues to defend the personnel move.
“I believe based on the facts of the situation, that I did what any reasonable administrator would do. I am comfortable with that,” Castro said. “We are going to treat people with respect. We have to hold them accountable. I feel like in this case we handled it exactly the way it should be handled.”
Bartko still filed a claim against Fresno State, saying he did not leave voluntarily.

Jenkins Hiring



Meredith Jenkins
The Fresno Bee reported that the athletic department hired Meredith Jenkins, formerly an administrator at Auburn, as the interim deputy.
However, Jenkin’s departure from Auburn was not without controversy. A softball player filed a Title IX complaint against the school, alleging a relationship with an assistant coach. Several players had proof of the relationship in the form of text messages, AL.com reported.
“According to ESPN, five players said during that March 30 meeting Auburn executive associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator Meredith Jenkins told the players they were risking arrest for taking the text messages from their teammate’s phone and ordered them to delete the messages,” the story stated.
Castro defended bringing Jenkins aboard.
“Meredith is a very talented administrator. We’ve talked with Auburn. We understand what happened at Auburn. They have given her strong letters of recommendation,” Castro said.
He said she left after the new Auburn athletic director decided to change staff.
In responding to the reports of Jenkins’ involvement in the softball scandal, Castro said, “There is no evidence that I’m aware of that supports that allegation. We talked to Auburn about it. We did our due diligence. She is a very talented person,” Castro said.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email