WGAC, Board of Governors comment on student-athlete concerns

Serena Bettis

The CSU banner attached to a lamp post.
The CSU banner is surrounded by green and gold leaves outside of the Administration Building at The Oval. (Jenny Lee | Collegian)

Colorado State University students have continued to speak out about their experiences regarding the University’s compliance, or lack thereof, when reporting sexual misconduct cases. 

The CSU System Board of Governors and the Women and Gender Advocacy Center responded to the most recent report from The Coloradoan that recounts criticism from student-athletes in the University’s handling of sexual misconduct cases and treatment of survivors in early December. 

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In their statement Dec. 4, the Board of Governors wrote that “calls for major changes within the athletic department leadership … are not fully informed and unwarranted.” 

According to the statement, external reviews, audits and investigations conducted on CSU Athletics and the Title IX policy at the University, and specifically in Athletics, found no “systemic abnormalities.” Additionally, CSU has never had a major National Collegiate Athletic Association infraction and is one of seven Division I universities that can make that claim, the statement said. 

“We respect the experiences of individual student-athletes, and our commitment to student safety is unambiguous,” the statement said. “We believe the department of athletics is aligned with these views and that the facts paint a rather different picture of the culture of the department of athletics than what has been alleged.” 

WGAC staff published an open letter Dec. 8 responding to the Board of Governors statement and making a statement of their own to express support for student-athletes speaking out. 

“We want to be clear that, as a victim advocacy center, we unequivocally support survivors, even if saying so brings risk of retaliation to our center,” the letter said. “The following is not an opinion. It is our truth about things that have been well-documented.”

The letter said the WGAC is disappointed in statements — including the Board of Governors statement and an opinion piece published in The Coloradoan Nov. 23 — that appear to “minimize and discredit” student experiences. 

The WGAC has been on campus for nearly 45 years, according to the letter, and runs one of the oldest survivor advocacy hotlines in the United States.

Their experience interacting with and supporting students who report sexual misconduct, they said, proves that the claims by students are not unfounded. Having no major NCAA infractions does not mean that there are not instances of sexual misconduct within Athletics, the letter said. 

“What is unique to CSU in this particular moment is that we have a group of students who are willing to place themselves at great risk to share their specific, firsthand experiences with barriers to institutional processes that left them feeling unheard, unsupported and unsafe,” the letter said. “The number of people speaking out is unprecedented, and we can all benefit by listening to what they are collectively saying.”

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb.

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