University administrators address campus tour incident

Austin Fleskes

Video courtesy of Colorado State University Police Department.

A mass email from several Colorado State University administrators on Wednesday afternoon addressed an incident that occurred on Monday during a campus tour. 

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The brief was signed by Leslie Taylor, vice president for enrollment and access, Mary Ontiveros, the VP for diversity and Blanche Hughes, VP for student affairs.

According to the brief, during a campus tour on Monday a parent participating called campus police, as she was nervous about the presence of two young men who joined the tour while it was in progress. 

According to the email, “police responded to the call by contacting the young men, who are Native American and visiting from New Mexico, during the tour.”

The CSU Police Department spoke with said students and confirmed that they were part of the tour and allowed them to return. However, because of the location of the tour when contact was made, the guide was unaware the police had been called and the group had moved on. 

The students returned to Ammons Hall, and then left campus to return home to New Mexico. 

“This incident is sad and frustrating from nearly every angle, particularly the experience of two students who were here to see if this was a good fit for them as an institution,” the email explained.

The Office of Admissions, Office of the VP for Diversity, Native American Cultural Center and CSUPD are meeting to review how an incident like this can be avoided or handled more appropriately in the future. 

“As a University community, we deeply regret the experience of these students while they were guests on our campus,” Taylor, Ontiveros and Hughes wrote.

The email also stated that the fact that the two students felt unwelcome as visitors “runs counter to our Principles of Community and the goals and aspirations of the CSU Police Department, even as they are obligated to respond to an individual’s concern about public safety, as well as the principles of our Office of Admissions.”

Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, the mother of the two students that came to the campus tour, shared the sentiments she received from the tour guide, Gabriella Visani, in a Facebook post on Thursday. 

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“I am so sorry that I did not know. I am so sorry that I could not have stopped this from happening,” Visani wrote to Gray. “I am frustrated that the mother of the other student didn’t think to let me know that she was calling the police on my tour guests.”

Visani explained that she was pleased that the two students were able to find the group initially and was not aware that the police had been contacted about the students. She noted that people leaving the tour early is common. She was unaware of what had happened and continued her tour.

“I would not and did not see your sons as ‘suspicious’ or anything other than somewhat shy, if that,” Visani wrote to Gray. “There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about that tour.”

Visani also expressed her feelings on the event in question. 

“So, this situation cuts so deeply for me – because I didn’t know about what was happening and because I take that philosophy of inclusivity at CSU so seriously,” Visani wrote. “But I know it cuts deeper for you and your family.”

In an interview with the Collegian, Visani said that everything she said in the letter was exactly how the event happened and how she feels about it all, adding again that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the boys when they joined the group. 

Visani said if she could say something to the boys that came to the tour, she would say she is very sorry they felt that way when they came to campus, and that this event is not the way CSU views people of different backgrounds. 

“In every facet of my experience here at CSU, that is not the way our university views people of different backgrounds. We try so hard to make our university an open place to everyone,” Visani said. “I am so sorry they did not see that part of our school.”

Audio courtesy of CSUPD. 

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly misspelled Leslie Taylor’s last name.

Collegian reporter Austin Fleskes can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Austinfleskes07.