Student government found in violation of sexual harassment policy

Erin Douglas

Update Wednesday 2:20 p.m.: The Associated Students of Colorado State University have responded to this article with a Letter to the Editor.



The Associated Students of Colorado State University were found responsible for creating a hostile workplace environment due to pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment, according to a Summary and Action Items from the Office of Equal Opportunity.

The violation of University policy was the result of conduct by “many individuals in various roles in ASCSU,” according to the report.

Behaviors that resulted in a violation of University policy included: gender stereotyping, ASCSU members pursuing other members for dates despite rejection, physical behavior that was sexual in nature, comments that were sexual in nature, conversations suggesting sexual activity occurred in the office, conversations about other ASCSU members’ sex lives and comments related to physical appearance and gender.

The behaviors primarily occurred in open areas of the ASCSU office with several witnesses present, according to the OEO.

The investigation of ASCSU was opened last spring due to claims of a hostile environment related to sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender and race. In the fall semester of 2015, three women in leadership positions resigned, and the Collegian later reported that their resignations were a result of a hostile work environment.

The OEO investigation concluded on May 9, however, was kept confidential until Monday, when the summary was released internally at ASCSU.

The public document summarizing the investigation and OEO’s findings was released in order to create transparency with the student body, and to help ASCSU move forward, according to an anonymous internal ASCSU source.

The organization was not found responsible for discrimination in the workplace. According to University policy, discrimination, “excludes an individual from participation in, denies the individual the benefits of, treats the individual differently from others in, or otherwise adversely affects a condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment or University activity.”

The organization, which manages a little over $2 million in student fees per year, will have to provide education of sexual harassment, diversity and inclusion, professional interactions and respectful communication to all elected and appointed members of ASCSU. The OEO will also provide education for ASCSU leaders on searching for and selecting students to fill ASCSU positions.