Colorado State officials have confirmed they do not consider the Associated Students of Colorado State University to be a governing body.
That seems to be the takeaway after the events of Wednesday night, in which the ASCSU Senate impeached former Sen. Kwon Yearby in a closed hearing. ASCSU conducted the hearing in executive session upon receiving advice from CSU General Counsel that Colorado Open Meeting Law does not apply to them. Colorado Open Meeting Law dictates that all governing bodies must conduct their meetings in public.
“I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be considered a governmental body,” said Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate from the Student Press Law Center. “It just sounds like they just broke the law.”
When he called the meeting into executive session, Vice President of ASCSU Lance LiPuma maintained that Colorado Open Meeting Law does not apply to ASCSU. CSU executive director of public affairs and communications Mike Hooker agrees.
“It is not a state or a local public body,” Hooker said.
Colorado Open Meetings Law covers “any public or private entities that have been delegated governmental decision-making functions by a body or official.” ASCSU is delegated its authority by the CSU Board of Governors, a body which is considered a state public body.
Despite repeated attempts to seek comment from CSU General Counsel, the department chose to issue the one–sentence statement from Hooker. No explanation was given as to why ASCSU is not a state or local public body.
This is not the first time that ASCSU has been faced with an issue regarding Colorado Open Meeting Law. A similar issue arose in 2008 when the Student Fee Review Board barred the public from two meetings to approve the allocation of funds.
In 2008, Amy Parsons, the University’s head legal counsel at the time, told the Collegian, “Ever since this statute passed in the 1970s, it has consistently been interpreted that as to public institutions of higher education, it only applies to the governing board.”
ASCSU controls the allocation of over $2.1 million of student funds.
“It’s pretty clearly a body that has been delegated a governmental decision-making authority by a state public body,” Goldstein said. “If they’d like to explain how they can divvy up $2 million worth of public money and not be a governmental body, then I would like to hear it.”
Wednesday night Yearby was also excluded from most of the proceedings, including the witness testimony and deliberation. He expressed displeasure at the fact that he was not given the chance to defend himself against his accusers.
“This certainly doesn’t sound like it would meet any due process requirements,” Goldstein said.
Collegian Reporter Jonathan Matheny can be reached online at email@example.com or on twitter @jonathanmathen2.