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Fresno City College Instructors Cancel Classes After Sexual Violence Allegations Surface
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By EdSource
Published 5 months ago on
November 30, 2023

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At least three women in the Fresno City College communication department refused to work today in response to an EdSource story revealing the Title IX investigation and act of sexual violence report of their colleague and president of the academic senate, Tom Boroujeni, sources say.

Thomas Peel

Lasherica Thornton

EdSource

Boroujeni, also a Fresno City College communication instructor, was found to have committed an “act of sexual violence” against a professor and colleague at nearby Fresno State in 2015 when he was a graduate student and adjunct instructor. The alleged victim is also a professor and Boroujeni’s colleague at City College.

The State Center Community College District, parent agency to City College, learned of the “sexual misconduct investigation” when the alleged victim requested a no-contact order against Boroujeni, which was granted in the spring 2022 semester.

“We feel that this person was protected over us,” an instructor who asked not to be identified by name said about the college’s inaction against Boroujeni – which she called an “inability to keep us safe.”

On Wednesday night, the three professors informed members of the college administration and their students of their intention not to work on Thursday. None of the administrators responded to the professors.

Neither the district nor the college has responded to EdSource as of Thursday morning.

(This article originally appeared on EdSource at this link.)

Taking Action

Tiffany Sarkisian, Fresno City College’s program review coordinator and a communication arts instructor, told the administration and her students that she and others decided to stay off campus in an effort to advocate for a safe teaching, learning, and working environment.

“The environment at FCC (Fresno City College) grows more toxic and unsafe by the day, especially as an abuser has been – and continues to be – protected by various campus leaders,” she emailed college administrators.

The administration’s failure to act on information they’ve had “created an unsafe space emotionally and physically,” Sarkisian told her students.

Sarkisian said she and others have been upset about the community college’s knowledge of the allegation against Boroujeni.

“They literally gave him a taller, bigger pedestal rather than taking the pedestal away from him,” Sarkisian told EdSource. “They had no concern about all other parties involved.”

Boroujeni Became Academic Senate President in May

In May 2023, Boroujeni started a two-year term as Fresno City College’s academic senate president. In that role, Boroujeni works with the school’s administration in setting academic policy and hiring faculty.

“They literally gave him a taller, bigger pedestal rather than taking the pedestal away from him. They had no concern about all other parties involved.” — Tiffany Sarkisian, Fresno City College communication arts instructor

Shiwali Patel, the senior counsel and director of Justice for Student Survivors at the National Women’s Law Center in D.C., has represented students in Title IX cases against colleges and universities.

“He shouldn’t have any impact on her experience there, any promotions or anything to do with her employment,” Patel said. “If he holds this position of power over the victim who told the community college about what happened at the other institution, she could be in a vulnerable position.”

Boroujeni told EdSource he is also facing allegations regarding his interactions with three other women at Fresno City College. They have each filed complaints against him, which he characterized as allegations of “gender discrimination.”

Fresno City College, Patel said, should ensure the alleged victim of the Title IX allegation and the three complainants feel safe and supported.

“That might mean limiting or pulling him from his academic senate president role,” Patel said. “Even while the school is investigating, they should be looking at interim measures: what can they do in the interim to protect the complainants and provide them with the support and accommodations they need.”

About the Authors

Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter at EdSource. Lasherica Thornton covers education in California’s Central Valley.

To get more reports like this one, click here to sign up for EdSource’s no-cost daily email on latest developments in education.

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