Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro said Monday that the university is hosting two forums this week so he and the community can discuss the recent controversy that has overtaken the campus.
Nearly two weeks ago, English professor Randa Jarrar tweeted out messages highly critical of former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush after she had died. Jarrar called Bush a “racist” who “raised a war criminal.” And after she began engaging with critics online, Jarrar continued making fiery remarks about the Bush family. Her comments led to a flurry of criticism hurled at Jarrar and the university.
In an official statement one week later, the university said it could not legally penalize Jarrar for her actions, saying that it had consulted with California State University legal counsel. But the criticism has not stopped.
Castro said the university will hold a campus forum on Wednesday in North Gym 118 at 10 a.m. The second forum will be a public event which the entire community is invited. That will be held May 3 at 7 p.m. in the Save Mart Center.
Castro made the announcement at a lecture held Monday night in the arena. Academic Senate Chair Thomas Holyoke and Associated Students, Inc. President Blake Zante will join Castro and other university leaders during the campus forum.
“The past couple of weeks have proven to be challenging for many colleagues on campus as the university experienced the aftermath of a professor sending out offensive and poorly timed messages,” Castro said in an email to the campus.
The Collegian examined the university’s response to the controversy in a Monday editorial. The Collegian called for Castro to host a public forum in order to directly communicate with the community about the matters. In Castro’s announcement, he said the forum took the place of a previously scheduled administrative roundtable meeting.
Also on Wednesday, a vigil for Barbara Bush is planned for 7 p.m. in the university’s Free Speech Area. California Assemblyman Jim Patterson tweeted those plans on Saturday.